Obituary: Stanford Phelps
Stanford Newton Phelps died peacefully at home in Greenwich, CT on June 6, 2019 at age 84. He is survived by his beloved wife, Elizabeth Richmond Phelps; his son, George; his daughter, Catherine, and son-in-law, Daniel McNamara; his grandchildren, Maxwell, Garrett and Ford; his brother, Barry Phelps; his sister Jeanette, and brother-in-law, Whitney Evans.
Mr. Phelps was chairman of the board of S.N. Phelps & Co., Commonwealth Oil Refining Company (CORCO) and Clear Springs Land Company, home of Clear Springs blueberries. His earlier career in the bond business included stints with Citibank, F. S. Smithers and Drexel Burnham Lambert where he started their high-yield bond department. He served as second lieutenant in the United States Army from October 1956 to April 1957.
Mr. Phelps was born in Rochester, N.Y., the son of Jeanette Coon and Stanford Newton Phelps. The family moved to Detroit and later back to Rochester when Mr. Phelps left to attend Phillips Exeter Academy in 1948. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1952, and subsequently from Yale University in 1956 and Harvard Business School in 1960.
Mr. Phelps was devoted to his church, First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich in Greenwich, CT. Mr. Phelps was a generous supporter of his church and many educational and Christian organizations, including Hartwick College from which he received an honorary Doctor of Laws, Harvard Business School, Keck Graduate Institute where he was on the Board and received a Doctorate of Applied Life Sciences, honoris causa, The Madeira School, Navy Seal Foundation, Polk State College, and Yale Peabody Museum where he served on the Peabody Leadership Council. Throughout his life, however, his highest charitable priority remained his high school alma mater, Exeter.
In Mr. Phelps, Exeter lost one of its most loyal and enthusiastic supporters. The breadth of his commitments grew from a heart-felt devotion to education, his desire to improve opportunities for Exeter students and his deep respect for Exeter’s faculty. He was most proud of his Phelps Scholar-Athlete program through which he provided one hundred seven students with scholarships to attend Exeter. Through his philanthropy, Mr. Phelps sought to inspire others to support the school he loved. In an address to the student body in 2001, he put it this way, “You will be remembered for what you give – not for what you get.”
In all aspects of his life, Mr. Phelps was guided by two principles he learned while a student of Greek and Latin at Exeter: Athanatos esti psyche, “The soul is immortal,” and Nil sine Deo, “Nothing without God.” All those who knew Mr. Phelps will remember him and take comfort in these two phrases. He will be deeply missed by his family, his friends and by the school he loved.
A service in celebration of the life of Stanford Newton Phelps will be held Wednesday, June 26 at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, One West Putnam Ave. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be directed to the First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich (fpcg.org)