Humphry Leopold Dunphy, who went by “H.L.” his entire life, died in the hospital Wednesday from injuries suffered after falling at his home the previous day. He was 91.
Apprenticed as a bricklayer in his teens Dunphy quickly mastered his trade, gained a reputation for building intricate and complicated brickwork, and moved beyond the poverty of his childhood. After years of cajoling, a friend and math professor who had known Dunphy during the war, and noted he worked without plans and made no written calculations, convinced him to take an IQ tested. The test revealed that Dunphy was a genius. Friends report he was disappointed, saying, “I always knew I was an egg head, I just didn’t want everyone else to know it.”
As the cold war heated up, Dunphy was convinced to take a job with the Department of Defense, where his math genius was presumably put to work defending the nation until he retired at age 74. However, he never gave up his passion for brick laying, taking on projects for friends and continuing work on what his friends called “H.L.’s wall,” a ten-foot wall made of elaborate patterns of brick that surrounded his five acre property. To make clear that the wall was not intended to keep people out, Dunphy included extravagant arched gates in the wall every 200 feet. The gates were never locked.
He was putting the finishing touches on top of a section of this wall when he fell. He was taken to the Kingman County General Hospital where he died the next day. A lifelong bachelor and only child, Dunphy is survived by innumerable friends, many of whom gathered with candles Wednesday night inside the gates of H.L.’s wall.