Obituary-James Phelps

James Robert (Jim) Phelps (85) was born August 29, 1938, in a farmhouse five miles southwest of Miltonvale, KS, to Ernest and Ida (Geist) Phelps. He passed away March 7, 2024.  

Jim attended Grass Valley rural grade school and graduated from Miltonvale Rural High School in 1956. He graduated from Kansas State University in 1961 with a degree in education.  He later earned a master’s degree in education from K-State.

 Growing up, Jim spent many summers working on his father’ farm, and for other local farmers.  He also spent two summers working for his oldest sister, Grace and her husband Elmo Kaiser at their ranch near Ellendale, North Dakota.

In the fall of 1961 Jim began his teaching career which spanned 33 years. He taught two years at Walker Grade School, a one room school near Longford, Kansas. Then three years at Wakefield, Ks.  junior high school. The next 28 years he spent teaching English at Wakefield High School.  He retired from teaching in 1994.

Jim loved playing and watching sports. He was the head basketball coach for Wakefield junior high, and an assistant coach for the boys’ basketball team at the high school.  Jim was also the head coach for the Wakefield Girl’s high school basketball team when they first started playing. He sometimes donned pads and scrimmaged with the high school football team, and also played town team basketball and softball.  He played some golf, but his favorite sport to play was tennis. 

Jim never married, but he had a large family.  He was a fixture at holiday and weekend gatherings at his sister, Betty and husband Clayton Reed’s farm at nearby Oak Hill.  Their three kids, eight grandkids, and eleven great-grandkids meant there was always a lot of activity at the farm.

Jim also spent quite a bit of time with his brother Wayne in Hutchinson, wife Melva Jean, and their two kids and three great-grandkids. Distance made it more difficult, but he was still able to stay close with Grace and Elmo Kaiser, their five boys, twelve grandkids and 24 great-grandkids

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, sister Grace and husband Elmo Kaiser, sister Betty and husband Clayton Reed, nephews Ray Kaiser and Randy Reed, and niece Dana (Reed) Hayes.  He is survived by a brother, Wayne and wife Melva Jean Phelps, nephews Bob, Frank, John, and Jim Kaiser, Mark Reed, and Steve Phelps, and niece Kimberly (Phelps) Frieze.  

Funeral services will be at 11AM Friday, March 15th at the Madura Congregational Church, 802 Grove St., Wakefield, Ks.  A light luncheon will follow the service.

Burial to follow at 1:30 PM in the Miltonvale cemetery, Miltonvale, Ks.  

Memorial contributions may be made to Madura Church, or the Wakefield Museum, 604 6th St., Wakefield, KS 67487.

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