Jon Henry Phelps, 95, longtime Wenatchee resident and attorney, passed away from complications of a fall in Bellevue, WA on January 8, 2014. Jon is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mildred; his step-children, Terry Waddle (Michiko) of Fort Collins, CO, and Joy (Gary Hinds) of Bellevue; his grandson, Spencer Hinds of Pullman; his brother, George, of Irvine, CA; and two nephews.
Born in Crosby, ND on September 23, 1918, to John and Anna Phelps, Jon was the eldest son and second of three children. Son of the county Superintendent of Schools and a librarian, Jon enjoyed education and became a life-long reader. He began his secondary education at North Dakota State College of Science in the depths of the Great Depression, but was able to attend for only five quarters before funds ran out.
When Jon accepted a position as a fingerprint analyst with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and moved to Washington, D.C., he continued taking classes at American University. When the draft board called, Jon enlisted in the Navy Seabees in 1943, serving in Hawaii and Guam.
Following his discharge in 1946, Jon resumed his education, eventually graduating from UW Law School and being admitted to the Washington State Bar Association in 1949. He arranged interviews in Lynden and Walla Walla, WA, but along the way he was referred to an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney position in Chelan County. When he was offered the position in Wenatchee, he stopped his search.
Together with Ed Engst, Jon began private practice in the Fuller-Quigg Building in Wenatchee in 1951. For nearly half a century, Jon practiced law with great integrity, seeking non-confrontational resolutions to conflict. In 1953, the pastor at First Presbyterian Church referred a young widow to Jon for resolution of the estate of her late husband. Eventually Jon married this client, Mildred, and became step-father to Terry and Joy, always taking pleasure in their personal, educational and career successes. He brought new vision to the family, leading dinnertime Socratic discussions, which both frustrated the kids and expanded their view of the world. When he became a grandfather at age 74, Jon relished his new role, and his grandson returned his affection. Near the end of his career, Jon practiced alone, and then with David Whitmore, before retiring for good in 1996. Jon was active in the First Presbyterian Church of Wenatchee, the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center, and the Masonic Temple. He golfed at Three Lakes Golf Club, played Bridge and a mean game of Ping-Pong.
Jon and Mildred took numerous overseas vacations to Europe, Asia and Australia. They visited Terry and Joy when they lived in Japan and France, respectively. Jon particularly enjoyed cruises, the most memorable of which was passage on the Queen Elizabeth II to England with a return flight on the Concorde.
Mildred and Jon moved to the Phoenix area, first as snowbirds, and later permanently, settling in Sun City West in 1997. They met new friends, golfed, played cards, traveled and enjoyed the good weather until they moved to Bellevue in 2012, where Jon shared caregiving with their daughter, Joy. Still an avid reader, Jon initiated a review and refresh of the library at his assisted living facility and started a “Write your life story” group for residents in 2013.
Jon brought out the best in others wherever he went. He leaves a large circle of friends, family and acquaintances touched by his belief in everyone’s dignity and the positive contribution that we all can make.
Due to the unpredictability of pass conditions, a Memorial Service will be postponed until April. Interment will be at the Saddlerock Presbyterian Church in Wenatchee. Details will be announced in mid-March.