Mention was made of the proposed new railway station, railway workshops and court buildings. All· these, said Mr Humphreys, would materialise in the fullness of time but just at present houses for ex-soldiers and private individuals were top of the priority list.
Following his retirement from the hurly burly of Parliament William did not just continue collecting art but also had more time to devote to farming something else which he enjoyed. He had a large farm near Douglas where purebred Persian sheep were raised. However it was his love of beautiful things that took up most of his time. His collection was quite catholic but his favourite paintings were of the Dutch and Flemish schools of the 17th century. In 1948 he donated a portion of his vast collection to the people of Kimberley and the northern Cape 'in consideration of his long association with the public life of the northern Cape and his desire to further the interests of the said region'. It was to be known as the Humphreys' Bequest and comprised a selection of European and British paintings, furniture and contemporary copies of classical sculptures.
Initially the works were housed at the Northern Cape Technical College but the terms of the donation stated that a suitable building should be constructed for an art gallery. In this regard William gave a large sum of money towards the building costs and on 5 June 1952 he laid the foundation. stone of the gallery which bears his name. It was a simple ceremony and Mr Humphreys in his speech said that there were too few galleries in the country, but then it was a young country. He hoped in particular that the younger generations would take an interest in the Gallery. Furthermore even if the 'artistic bug' only affected one percent of visitors to it the institution would be serving its purpose. In introducing Mr Humphreys, the Mayor Mr JP Smit said 'we in Kimberley are proud of you. It is a pity that there are not more men of your caliber'. Six months later in December the Art Gallery was officially opened by Mr Harry Oppenheimer. In the early days of its existence Mr Humphreys acted as curator, secretary, caretaker and virtually everything else. Unfortunately he was not, it would seem, a good administrator and most of the early documents pertaining to the Gallery and collections were lost.
That however should not take anything away from the fact that it is largely due to Mr Humphreys that Kimberley has an art gallery today, and that the collection he amassed during his lifetime forms an integral part of its collections. This contribution was recognised and acknowledged on 5 April 1960 at a special function held in the Art Gallery. The mayor Mr l Jawno said 'there is no better name for this wonderful showplace'. He referred to the good work William had done in his 'quiet, modest way' and said he had been given his start in business by Mr Humphreys. The latter gentleman said at the same function, which by a happy co-incidence took place on his 71st birthday, that he was no artist but had 'always had a hunch for collecting paintings and antiques'. He expressed the view that a gallery could not thrive if it had to rely only on gifts and donations. It would become 'static'. He hoped that one day the Gallery would have ample funds, and would be able to purchase the works of some of the great masters.
The following year Mr Humphreys received the ultimate accolade for all he had done for Kimberley and the northern Cape, in so many spheres ranging from politics to the arts, when the Freedom of the City was conferred upon him. The ceremony took place in the Council Chamber on 14 September. At the function Mr GS Eden said of William that 'without him the aspirations of this vast area of the northern Cape would never have seen the light of day in Parliament'. The outgoing mayor Mr Jawno said that Mr Humphreys had always worked unstintingly for the good of Kimberley without asking for anything in return.
William died on 25 July 1965. He was survived by his wife and children. The funeral, a civic one, was held on 28 July at the Newton Dutch Reformed Church. The Humphreys family had a close connection to it and William's mother had given the handsome four-face clock and set of bells in the tower. The bells, which came from Hamburg, had been bought by Mr Humphreys at his mother's request. He himself had given a beautiful set of collection plates to the church. The service was conducted by the Rev. W Fullard who also presided at the graveside in the West End cemetery. There the leader of the Indian community Mr GW Naidoo spoke, saying of Mr Humphreys 'he was one who was quick to appreciate other people's hardships (and worked for the interests of the Coloured and Indian people of the city). He loved the poor and served his people with an understanding heart'. On the day of the funeral the Art Gallery was closed as a mark of respect to its founder and benefactor.
- Article courtesy from Now & Then, June 2009