Amherst Magazine

Kenneth W. Phelon Jr. '50

Deceased June 19, 2014

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50th Reunion Book Page


In Memory

Ken Phelon passed away on June 19, 2014, of kidney and lung problems.

After Amherst and a publishing career, he and wife Mary retired to Sun City, Arizona, in 1997 to be closer to daughter Monica and her three children in Phoenix and psychiatric social worker daughter Hope and her three horses in Wyoming.

There he continued his activities in the Catholic Church as a lector, abstract painting, lover of jazz music, poetry writer and authority on Pulitzer poet Richard Wilbur '42, and low handicap golfer. I played with him often during my Arizona winters, highlighted by post-game picking of lemons and grapefruits from his backyard trees.

Wife Mary and son Ken predeceased him. On Ken's passing, his daughters offered his putter to a golf partner named Kurt Hofmann, retired VP of University of Maine who accepted it saying, "I do so not because it will be used but because with it I still golf with Ken, it keeps me near a dear friend who represents the best of a liberal arts education--an intellectual but not arrogant, a man of abiding faith but tolerant of other paths, a man of limited means but unlimited generosity, a man for whom lifelong learning was not a platitude but a daily practice, and a graduate who held his alma mater in high esteem. If it still produces liberal arts graduates in the Ken Phelon mold, it is about what it should be about." Terras Irradient.

Ed Rowen '50

50th Reunion

50 Kenneth Phelon.jpgShortly after graduation I joined my dad, his brother, my cousin Stacy and brother-in-law, Joe Marsar in our family publishing business. We had two small rooms on the 10th floor at 32 Union Sq. East in Manhattan. After many years at that location we moved in the late 80's to what had been an embroidery factory, across the river in Fairview, NJ.

During all that time I published and edited SHELDON'S RETAIL, a directory giving the names of buyers for department and specialty stores in the U. S. and Canada. (The enclosed photos show me near the beginning and the end of that career.)

Interestingly, a number of those retailers, whose buyers and executives we identified, had Amherst connections, including Ocisroth's, Hazelton PA; Dayton's, Minneapolis; Steketee's, Grand Rapids MI; Holthausen's, Union City NJ; Schramm's, Burlington IA; Stearns, Boston and others. Most of these businesses are now defunct, having been succeeded by branches of national chains.

In October of 1950 Mary O'Hara and I married in St. Aedan's Church. Jersey City. Mary is an R.N. graduate of Holy Name Hospital School of Nursing, Teaneck NJ. She worked as a part timer at French Hospital in Manhattan, Englewood Hospital and Dunroven Nursing Home, Cresskill NJ.

It was to our house in Cresskill that we moved early in 1951, living there until my retirement in 1997, when we moved to Sun City AZ, largely to be closer to our youngest daughter Monica and her three children. She lives in Phoenix and is an employee of the Arizona State Department of Revenue. Our son Gil in Mew Jersey works for BMW of America. Our daughter Hope is a psychiatric social worker for the Washakie County Mental Health Center in Worland, WY. We have visited her and her horses, Cody and "Lily the filly” the past two summers.

In the 1960's, when Vatican Council II decreed greater lay participation in the Catholic Mass, I became a lector (reader of Epistles), and it is my privilege to so continue here at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Sun City.

Some of you will have achieved much, or have been acquainted with successful individuals. My "brush with greatness” occurred before I reached Amherst. I was a member of the undefeated 1943 St. Cecilia H.S. of Englewood, NJ football team coached by Vince Lombardi, whose career at Fordham, West Point, the Giants, the Packers and the Redskins has been well documented.

We'd be glad to show any of you, when you are in the Phoenix area, around Sun City, one of America's older & larger retirement communities. Bring golf clubs and swimsuits.

 

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