Paul Phelan

Born on Jul 30, 1929
Departed on Feb 25, 2024

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Paul R. Phelan, 94, died peacefully, on Sunday, February 25th, 2024. He was  surrounded by his family, in his room at Grand Living, where he had been happily living.

Paul, was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, business owner and active community member. He leaves behind a legacy of great faith, love, compassion, and dedication to his family and community.

A life long resident of Cedar Rapids, Paul was born to Raymond and Amanda (Lattner) Phelan on July 30th,1929. Paul was predeceased by his wife, Betty, and two sisters, Marceil Phelan Kennedy and Ann Phelan Melnick.

Paul graduated from Franklin high school in 1947, attended Loras College, while also working for the Chicago Railroad and the Tree Department for Cedar Rapids Iowa Illinois Gas and Electric.

On June 17,1950, he married Mary Elizabeth (Betty) Schwinn at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids, IA. Paul and Betty enjoyed 62 grand and glorious years together and were blessed with six children. Steve (Jenifer) Phelan, Tom (deceased) Kathy Phelan, Mary Beth (Bob) Helgens, Mike (Jeannine) Phelan and twins Peter (deceased) and Paul (Kathy) Phelan. Also surviving Paul are 14 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.

While married, Paul began work at Cedar Rapids Paint, a business owned by his father-in-law. When Charles Schwinn retired, Paul took over the business and added framing and wallpaper services. Years later, “The Design Studio” was added which included home furnishings. A commercial furniture department soon followed, along with a women’s clothing boutique, run by his wife, Betty. When the business changed locations in 1984, the company name was changed to Phelan’s Interiors. Paul retired from Phelan’s in 2000.

Paul and Betty suffered every parent’s nightmare when they lost their 20-year-old son, Peter on Feb 7th, 1981. After losing Peter, Betty and Paul considered it their ministry to reach out to parents who suffered the loss of a child. They offered their time and their faith to help others in whatever way they could. Paul endured the loss of another son, Tom, when he had a fatal heart attack on October 16, 2018.

Paul enjoyed serving on the boards of the Cedar Rapids Symphony, the Cedar Rapids Art Association, MethWick Community, was a member of Rotary and worked as a mentor with SCORE; advising young entrepreneurs on business start-ups. Paul was a charter member of the local Cedar Rapids Christian Businessmen’s Club, which hosted the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast for many years. For close to 30 years, he enjoyed hosting a weekly bible study at his store. A long time member of St. Matthew Catholic Church, Paul regularly attended daily mass, was trained as a Befriender and served as a Eucharistic Minister. 

One of Pauls greatest gifts, was the fact that he had healing hands, and shared many rubs and massages with family and friends. During family gatherings, there was always a fight as to who would get to sit by dad. For many years, he would visit friends, who were infirm and confined to bed, to share his sacred and healing massages. Most recently, during his stay at Grand Living, in gratitude, he would offer back rubs to any of the staff who enjoyed them.

When asked how he would like to be remembered, Paul responded, “I love my God - I had a marvelous marriage and terrific family whom I love very very much. I am extremely proud of each of my children”.

To honor Paul’s memory and to celebrate his life, a visitation will be held on Friday, March 1, 2024, at Cedar Memorial  Chapel Stateroom, from 4;00-6:00PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at 1:00PM at All Saints Catholic Church, 720 29th Street SE, Cedar Rapids, IA. 

Following the service, Paul will be laid to rest at Mt. Calvary Cemetery, where his cremains will be joined to his wife, Betty’s grave.

Words are inadequate at expressing our gratitude to Anna Schmall, and her team of very loving and caring staff in the memory care unit at Grand Living. They have gone above and beyond in their love and care for Paul. Hospice of Mercy also provided Paul and this family with much comfort and exceptional care in Paul’s final days.

Dad, you lived your life as a disciple of Christ. You were a devoted husband who adored his wife and a very caring father who wanted only the best for his family. We are grateful for the love you so generously shared and the many lessons you taught us. We have been blessed to call you, “Dad”.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to, St. Matthew Church or the Peter Phelan Memorial Scholarship at Creighton University. 2500 California Plaza Omaha, NE 68102.