Paul “Pa” Phelps passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on October 30, 2019 at his home in Inverness, California.
Paul is survived by his wife Lucille, his four children: Christopher and Maria Conroy-Phelps of St Helena, CA; Mary and John Viafora of Riverside, CA; Anne and Rocky Spirou of Peoria, AZ; and Gregory and Julie Pepe-Phelps of Anchorage, AK; 13 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren with one due any day! He is also survived by his sisters, Pauline Brisbin and Janet Wiegmann.
Paul was born on March 2, 1932 in Glendale, California to Paul L. Phelps, Sr. and Julia Paparone Phelps. He graduated from Fremont High School, where he met Lucille, his high school sweetheart and lifelong love, at their high school prom where Paul filled out Lucille’s dance card as was the custom and left no room for anyone else! They married at 21 and spent a wonderful 66 years together! Paul served as a communications chief in the US Army in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, after which he was honorably discharged. Paul and Lucille were married in Los Angeles, California on March 8, 1953. One week later, he started his electrical engineering curriculum at California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo. Upon graduation, Paul and Lucille welcomed their first child, Christopher Paul and soon after were blessed with daughters, Mary Lucille and Anne Therese and son, Gregory Lawrence.
Paul began his 34 year career at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory immediately upon graduation where he was engaged in research which included radionuclides in the environment, biomedical engineering, and geothermal energy. He was awarded a US Patent for a device he invented in 1960, and there is a grant for continuing education, from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, dedicated to him. Paul was a Fellow of the Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society.
Paul and Lucille were active members of St. Michael’s Catholic Parish, where all their children attended elementary school. Paul served as a Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus. He was a past president of his local chapter of the Sierra Club and organized a number of fun-filled and memorable family backpacking trips; enjoyed cycling, auto mechanics and repairing everything that came his way; and keeping the thermostat at 68 degrees, no matter what! He loved to teach anyone he could about electricity and radios.
One of Paul’s most passionate hobbies was amateur (ham) radio. He spent many engaging hours in his radio room, communicating with other ham operators around the world. He also enjoyed teaching classes locally. His call sign, KF6RXB is now a “silent key” and was known by anyone in the ionosphere who had the privilege to make a contact with him as an exquisite operator.
Paul and Lucille retired to Inverness, California in 1991, where they built their dream home overlooking Tamales Bay with the help of their son, Greg. As faithful members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Olema, they participated fully in parish spiritual and social life.
Paul was a dedicated and loving husband, father, grandfather, and brother. It was not unusual for him to call family members daily, especially his sisters. He had a wry sense of humor, loved entertaining friends and colleagues, and telling stories. Paul often expressed, with deep satisfaction, how proud he was of his beautiful family.
The family would like to offer heartfelt gratitude to Continuum Care Hospice, Marin Senior Services and Paul’s expert caregiver, Lee Tawalo.
Donations can be made to continuumhospice/continuum-care-hospice-foundation or West Marin Senior Services.
A funeral Mass will be held on March 7, 2020 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, in Olema, California.