Jane Phelps, 78

Jane Phelps, a resident of Ridgefield since l965 and active in community affairs, died suddenly on January 9, 2013. She was 78 years old.

Mrs. Phelps was born in Manhattan on May 30, l935 to Raymond Huguet and Gabriella Guranyi Portman. Her family moved to Mt. Vernon, NY when she was 5 then moved to New Rochelle, NY two years later. She attended New Rochelle High School, The University of Rochester and The Berkeley School. During the summer of her sophomore year in college she met her future husband, Edwin J. “Jim” Phelps, Jr., who was attending Lafayette College. They later learned that they had both lived on the same street, at different times, in Mt. Vernon and both had attended the same elementary school!

Before her marriage she worked in The Staff Training Dept. of Caltex. They were married by the Rev. Dan Thomas on April 24, 1957, at The Presbyterian Church in New Rochelle, NY. They chose that date to allow for a honeymoon in Bermuda before he had to report for active duty at Ft. Dix, NJ where he served as a company commander. After his active duty, they moved to Brooklyn, NY where he worked for the William W. Fitzhugh Co. and she worked for The National Board of YMCAs in the Armed Services Dept. He joined The Reader’s Digest Association two years later and they moved to Yonkers, NY and then to Ridgefield in l965. They had three daughters, Carolyn Jane, born in Brooklyn, Hilary Ann, born in Yonkers, and Alison Hewitt, born in Norwalk.

Shortly after moving to Ridgefield, she became active in the Red Cross working at bloodmobiles and set up free CPR classes at the Community Center. She became very active in Girl Scouting where she served as Brownie Leader and Girl Scout Leader for her three daughters. She also had been a Girl Scout through high school and became a Curved Bar Scout, the equivalent of an Eagle Scout.

Mrs. Phelps was an early member of Keeler Tavern where she was guide and led one of the very first Tavern tours during the Bicentennial. She served in various capacities at the Tavern and was the schoolmarm for The Fifth Connecticut Regiment during the Bicentennial reenactment. She also created and led a colonial classroom for many years for the 4th graders at Veterans Park School.

Mrs. Phelps was an active member of the Community Center Women’s Committee for many years serving as Vice President, Incorporator and on the board of Incorporators. She was a member of the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association, now the VNA, serving as Vice President and Incorporator. She also chaired The Friendship Through Sharing Program and volunteered at Health Days and Flu Clinics for the VNA.  She served on the first Youth Commission as one of the VNA representatives. She and her husband also served as Justices of the Peace.

Mrs. Phelps was a longtime member of The Caudatowa Garden Club. She served as President from 1988 to 1990 and she held many positions, including club Historian, for years. She was made a lifetime member of The Federated Garden Clubs of CT.

In addition to her volunteer activities, she was a preschool teacher at The Methodist Nursery School and later was a Welcome Wagon representative where she conducted the first group corporate relocation programs for transferred employees.

Upon retirement she and her husband fulfilled a lifelong dream of traveling. They have been to over 100 countries, completed many around the world trips, along with separate trips to Papua, New Guinea, African safaris and many remote islands. She also loved spending time with family at their cottage on Lake Champlain and she was an avid fresh water fisherman. They were members of Silver Spring Country Club.

She adored her family and always treasured family gatherings. She will be remembered for her sense of humor and her enthusiasm for life. In addition to her husband of 56 years, she is survived by her daughter, Carolyn Dent, and son-in-law, The Rev. Thomas P. Dent, of Woodbine, GA; her daughter, Hilary Fisher, and son-in-law, William H. Fisher III, of Peachtree City, GA; her daughter, Alison Perry, and son-in-law, Christopher Perry, of Wilton, CT; by her seven adoring grandchildren, Ryan Dent, Lindsay Dent, William Fisher, Allison Fisher, O. Endecott Perry II, Amanda Perry and Samuel Perry; and by her great-grandson, Hank Dent.

A memorial service in celebration of her life will be held at The First Congregational Church in Ridgefield on Saturday, March 15, at 2:00 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, donations would be appreciated to the VNA or Keeler Tavern.