Joseph Benjamin Phelps, born October 16, 1917, in Hebrew Springs, Arkansas stepped through the portals of heaven July 31, 2011, in Chewelah, Washington.
He was a premature baby so small; his mother placed him in a shoe box for warmth and comfort. He was the 3rd of 6 children and his siblings have gone to heaven ahead of him to prepare for his entrance there.
After completing the 8th grade he left school to work in support of his family. Later, in 1939, feeling the call of God on his life, he attended Southwestern Bible College, in Enid Oklahoma. Although he was not a formally educated man, he was indeed a well educated man. He loved to read, had an insatiable quest for knowledge, and a great curiosity.
He then came West, to California, where he worked as a welder’s helper at the Harbor Boat Yard in San Pedro. August 29, 1942 he married “his Beverly” but their planned life together was interrupted by World War II.
He served in the U.S. Army, first as a Chaplin’s Assistant and then later as a Supply Clerk from November 13, 1943 to April 5, 1946. Although he was part of the armada crossing the English Channel on D-Day, the ship he was on experience trouble with loose tanks in the cargo hold and had to return to England because of the rough seas.
He landed in La Harve, France the following day and served in France and Germany as part of the Occupation Forces until his return to the states. Part of his duties was to guard German POWs. Once again he had a positive impact on even them; so much so, one of the prisoners painted for him a European countryside with a beautiful small country church standing serenely among the trees and meadows, its steeple raising toward heaven.
Early in the 1950s he started his own swimming pool maintenance and repair company where he faithfully looked after his clients’ pools, kids, dogs, parrots, etc., until he retired.
He moved to Chewelah, with his daughter and son-in-law last June and is survived by his wife of 69 years, Beverly; his daughters Linda Wantland and Donna Wicks; 5 Grandchildren, 12 Great-Grandchildren, 1 Great-Great Granddaughter.
His was a life well lived dedicated to God, his family, and his country.
Beverly and Jay – Their Story: While attending church in Long Beach, CA a beautiful young lady, who was playing the accordion, caught his eye. He said, “That’s the one for me!” He proposed to her on Rainbow Pier. Later that evening, after she said “yes”, while walking along the pier, they heard that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. For the next 69 years he remained devoted to “my Beverly”, the love of his life.