OBITUARY: Wilma Phelps

Wilma Phelps, 96, died peacefully at her longtime home of Schowalter Villa in Hesston, Kan., on March 3, 2021.

Wilma was born on Jan. 24, 1925, in Beaver Crossing, Neb., to Elbert and Clara Hostetler (nee Burkey). She was the oldest of six children: Eldon Hostetler (Eileen), Edith Reed (Robin), Margie Swartzendruber (Wayne), Leila DeVoe (Paul) and Vada Clemens (Gene).

Wilma felt fortunate to attend Hesston College and graduated with an academic diploma in 1945. Her first main job was as a secretary with the Mennonite Central Committee in Akron, Pa. After a year and a half with them, she signed up with MCC for supporting the refugee efforts from WWII. She spent the following three years in Canada, Naples, Italy, and Gronau, Germany. Upon return, she worked for Hesston College for two years before moving to Colorado.

While in Colorado, she met her husband, Robert (Bob) Phelps, and they married on Sept. 28, 1963. They had two children, James and Beth. Sadly, Bob died in a car accident on Sept. 11, 1973.

Wilma leaves to cherish her memory her children and grandchildren: James and Amy and their boys, Ryder and Hawke, (Colorado) and Beth and Matt and their children, Emma and Noah, (New Zealand), along with her youngest sister, Vada and her husband Gene (Pennsylvania) and many devoted nieces and nephews.

Anyone who will have known Wilma will remember her smile. You rarely saw her without that beautiful accessory. She found the good in everything and everyone and loved unconditionally. She saw the beauty in the simple and was a lover of animals and the natural world. She had a green thumb like no other. The ripple effects of her many beautiful things made a big impact to the lives of many.

We want to make special mention to each and every staff member at Schowalter Villa. Mom loved being a part of this community and felt happy, safe and supported and loved. We can’t thank them enough. They are our angels, and if you have a moment, take time to drop off flowers, produce, or notes to these special people.W

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