A member of a military family, Susan was born in St. Joseph, Missouri. Susan’s father, Gunnery Sergeant Galen Humphrey served his country in the Marines while her mother, Arlene Humphrey, was a stay at home mother of two daughters and two sons. As the military action in Southeast Asia escalated in the early 1960′s, Susan’s father served in Vietnam as a navigator in the 1st Marine Air Wing.
On February 1st, 1966, above the Gulf of Tonkin, the Lockheed C130 that Galen Humphrey was flying on took enemy fire during a refueling mission and was never heard from again. Susan’s family received the devastating news that her father was Missing-in-Action.
The official report said the plane had been shot down and that all aboard likely died in the crash. But no wreckage was ever spotted, no bodies were recovered. Throughout the war, stories surfaced of those thought to be dead who were discovered to be prisoners in North Vietnam. And at the war’s end, as POW’s were set free, a few more soldiers thought to be lost were miraculously found to be alive. Susan, like her family, never lost hope and steadfastly believed that her father would somehow make his way home.
As the war slowly faded into memory, so did Susan’s belief that she would see her dad again. It was years later that Susan finally accepted that her father was dead. This long, intense experience in her formative years had a profound effect on Susan and taught her some important lessons. Faith is stronger than fear. Knowing is better than not. Family is everything.
When her father left for Vietnam, Susan’s mother settled in St. Joseph, Missouri with her four children to be closer their extended family. Susan grew up attending the St. Joseph public school system and graduated from Bishop LeBlond High School, where she was active on the speech and debate team.
Susan’s grandmother, Sue Humphrey, was a teacher for a remarkable 79 years! Many of those years were spent as an educator at various St. Joseph schools. Grandma Humphrey never stopped in her own pursuit of a formal education. At the age of 95 she was still studying literature and creative writing at Missouri Western State College. Susan learned to respect educators and the value of continuing education from her grandmother. And like her namesake, she would continue to enhance her own education throughout life.
Grandma Humphrey also influenced Susan’s education outside of school, concentrating on political issues and the inner workings of government. When Sue Humphrey’s son was declared Missing-in-Action she began what turned out to be a decade long letter writing campaign, writing the Pentagon, Missouri’s elected officials and the White House for their help in her search for answers concerning her son. Susan paid close attention to the process and took note of those who were willing to listen, those who tried to help and those that did nothing.
At Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, Susan continued her active participation on the debate team. Often the topic at hand hinged on current political events and in those olden days before computers and the Internet, Susan found herself at the library looking up facts in the Congressional Record. A task she learned to enjoy.
Susan graduated with a degree in business and accounting from Drury College, with a minor in economics. Her goal at the time was to be a tax attorney. She accomplished the first part of this endeavor when she earned her place as a Certified Public Accountant. Two years later, in 1987, she began her pursuit of a law degree. Always one to prioritize the most important things in her life, Susan realized that her young marriage and three small children meant that law school would have to wait. Susan is also a person who sees things through to the finish. After a ten year break, in 1997, Susan returned to law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she served as business editor for the Law Review and graduated With Distinction in 2000.
Career in Business
Susan began her business career working in public accounting. She worked in several different firm settings, from a large “big eight” accounting firm, to medium size firms to her own solo practice. Susan’s accounting work for a variety of industries has helped her develop a perspective in dealing with issues that is invaluable to her work in government.
In the mid 1980’s Susan and her husband James discovered the new world of personal computers. Together they started a successful computer supply company with Susan handling all the administrative aspects of the business. Susan got to experience first-hand the issues that face our small business owners from collecting accounts receivable, maintaining inventory and making payroll. When Susan says she wants to help the small businesses of Missouri, they can rest assured that she has walked a mile in their shoes.
After the sale of their business, James and Susan decided to go back to their original professions. In 1995, they moved to Susan’s hometown of St. Joseph and began providing legal and accounting services. Susan ran an accounting and tax practice and handled the administrative duties of the Montee Law Firm. Susan began practicing in the firm as an attorney after she graduated from law school.