Thomas Arthur Phelan January 6, 1915 - May 18, 2013 "Dear family and friends, if you're reading this, it means I'm banging on Heaven's gate." This is how Art Phelan, our beloved father and grandfather, wanted us to start his obituary. He was fun and fun-loving, and his wonderful sense of humor always delighted those around him. Art was born on January 6, 1915, in Merritt, British Columbia, Canada. But he spent his entire youth in Southern California. His life was full of adventure, which provided plenty of stories to share with his three children, three grand-children, and four great grand-children, who affectionately called him "Pops." Attending UCLA, he graduated as a geologist and later earned his Ph.D. in educational administration, eventually retiring as Chief of the Bureau of Program Development and Evaluation, Special Education at the California State Department of Education. Pops' love of science and curiosity about how things worked rubbed off on all of us. We could never drive anywhere without a geology lesson. He would turn even the most drab and boring landscape into an amazing character in a story of the region's natural history. He knew so much about so many things.... And when we asked a question he couldn't answer, he would take up the quest with us to seek the answer together. An accomplished organist who could play anything by ear, he serenaded us to sleep each night and instilled in each of us a love of music. As president of the Sacramento Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society, he assisted with the salvage, restoration, and installation of several old theatre pipe organs in public venues, where audiences still enjoy their unique sounds today. Pops' passions included photography, water-skiing, and traveling. He was a family man, and every vacation was a family vacation. He taught us to appreciate and respect nature. His wonderful photos remind us what a full and happy life the Phelan family had together. We lost Pops to cancer at the age of 98.He is now reunited with Lynn Phelan, the love of his life and wife of 51 years, who passed away in 2001. We will all miss him terribly, but we feel blessed to have had such a kind-hearted and devoted father, grand-father, and great-grand father. Marci Phelan (daughter); Jan and Dennis Herbert (daughter and spouse); Tom, Amy, and Stephanie Phelan (son's family); Sam, Kellie, Payton, and Parker Herbert (grandson's family); Cecily, Kyle, Ella, and Lucy Jones (grand-daughter's family). A private family memorial will be held. www.bakersfield.com/obits
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Published in Bakersfield Californian on May 22, 2013