Frederick Louis Phelps, Jr. of North Wales, Pennsylvania, passed away on January 31, 2017 at the age of 96. Fred was born on August 1, 1920 in Philadelphia to Frederick L. and Dorothy M. (Dimler) Phelps. His family lived in Philadelphia until Fred was eight years old, and then moved to North Wales. Fred attended Chalfont Borough School, Cedar Hill School, Mill Creek School, Montgomeryville School, and graduated from Doylestown High School in 1939, where at the time of his death he was the last surviving member of that graduating class. Fred worked for Wrights Aeronautical Corporation in Paterson, New Jersey, and then for Bendix Aviation in Philadelphia as the head inspector of airplane parts used in
World War II
airplanes. He received two deferments from serving in the armed forces because of his employment, but when he received his third draft notice on his twenty-third birthday, he entered the United States
in 1943. Fred spent four months at Fort McClellan in Alabama for basic training and then was sent to the South Pacific in February of 1944, traveling by ship through the Panama Canal to serve as part of the second wave of troops that invaded the Philippines with General George MacArthur. Several months later in November of 1944, Fred’s unit landed on the beach of Leyte Island and rushed inland to set up a perimeter of shallow foxholes, all the while under heavy fire from the Japanese. When asked whether he remembered being scared, Fred recalled, “You’re scared beyond belief. Scared beyond belief, honest. When they say that there’s no atheists in a foxhole…you’re in a foxhole and the guy in a foxhole is next to you, and you can hear him talking, and he’s talking to the guy upstairs. And you’re talking to the guy upstairs. You’re both scared to death. I don’t think people have any idea what that feeling’s like, to be in that hole with all this fire around you and what-have-you, it’s just unbelievable.” Fred was on Leyte Island for only a few days when a Japanese mortar landed and exploded at the edge of his foxhole, imbedding shrapnel in the left side of his body and blowing out his eardrum. It took ten days before the Japanese retreated and Fred’s unit was able to transport Fred and the other wounded out of the jungle to a church set up as a hospital. From there, Fred was moved to a U.S. Army hospital on Biak Island, and finally back to an American hospital in Georgia. He received the
for his service and was honorably discharged in August of 1945. After his recovery, Fred returned to the Philadelphia area and met the girl he would marry, Doris Keyser of Lansdale, through mutual friends. Doris’ father, T.D. Keyser, was one of the first Chevrolet dealership owners in the United States. Fred started the Abington Taxi Cab Company with his brother-in-law, and then his father gave him an acre of ground on the family property in North Wales. Fred and Doris built a small two-bedroom house there and added on to it over time. Fred sold the taxi cab business when more people began owning their own automobiles. He applied for a job as a mechanical parts inspector at Teleflex in North Wales and rose to head of quality control for the company, working there for thirty years. He was awarded a patent with one of the company’s scientists for a special coating they developed to protect airplane parts from high temperatures. While at Teleflex, Fred attended night school at Penn State Abington and received his engineering degree in 1961. Fred and Doris raised one son, Frederick L. Phelps III. They were members of the Pleasantville United Church of Christ, where Fred served as church treasurer, deacon, elder and trustee. Fred was also a 32nd-degree Mason and had been a member of the Free and Associated Masons for more than fifty years. Fred was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in his 70s and surprised his doctors by surviving it. Fred was a positive, upbeat and cheerful man who relished life and was thankful for the blessings he had received from God. He credited his longevity to giving up watching television and only reading the newspaper and listening to the radio. Fred was predeceased by two sisters, Dolores Gotlieb and Dorothy Seiler, and his wife, Doris. He is survived by his son, Fred L. Phelps, III, of Newport Beach, CA, two grandsons, Ian and Colin, and a multitude of friends. His smile, laugh and positive outlook will be sorely missed. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his Memorial Service on Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 11:00 AM at Pleasantville United Church of Christ, 3424 Limekiln Pike, Chalfont, PA 18914 and also to greet the family immediately after the service. Inurnment in Pleasantville U.C.C. Cemetery will be held privately by his family. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Fred’s name can be made to the Pleasantville U.C.C. at the above address, and would be deeply appreciated by his family. Arrangements by Huff & Lakjer Funeral Home, Lansdale, PA 19446.