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Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr
Birth: Nov. 13, 1929
Lauderdale County
Mississippi, USA
Death: Mar. 19, 2014
Shawnee County
Kansas, USA

Religious Figure. Born in Meridian, Mississippi, the elder of two children to Catherine Idalette Johnston and Fred Wade Phelps. His father was a railroad policeman for the Columbus and Greenville Railway and his mother was a homemaker. At the age of five Fred lost his mother to cancer and his father sent him and sister to live with an aunt. When his father remarried they returned to live with him. Fred was a member of the Boy Scouts of America, receiving the Eagle Scout Award. In May 1946, at the age of 16, he graduated from high school and was admitted to United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Fred however claims that after attending a Methodist revival meeting decided to become a minister and chose not to attend West Point. By the 1950's Fred was estranged from his family and no longer speaking with them. In 1951, he earned a two-year degree from John Muir College. While at John Muir, he was profiled in Time magazine for preaching against "sins committed on campus by students and teachers". In October 1951, while attending the Arizona Bible Institute, he met Margie M. Simms and married her in May 1952. Fred founded Westboro Baptist Church in 1955 and molded it in his fire-and-brimstone image. Soon after Westboro was established, he broke all ties with East Side Baptist. Fred earned a law degree from Washburn University in 1964, and founded the Phelps Chartered law firm. The first notable cases were related to civil rights. Fred took cases on behalf of African-American clients alleging racial discrimination by school systems, and a predominantly black American Legion post which had been raided by police, alleging racially based police abuse. In July, 1979, Fred was permanently disbarred from practicing law in the state of Kansas, though he continued to practice in Federal courts. In 1985, nine Federal judges filed a disciplinary complaint against him and five of his children, alleging false accusations against the judges. In 1989, the complaint was settled and Fred agreed to stop practicing law in Federal court permanently. Fred described himself as an Old School Baptist, and stated that he held to all of the Five Points of Calvinism. His church has been involved in actions against gay people since at least 1991, when it sought a crackdown on homosexual activity at Gage Park six blocks northwest of the church. In 2001, Fred estimated that the West Baptist Church had held 40 pickets a week for the previous 10 years. In addition to conducting anti-gay protests at military funerals, the organization pickets other celebrity funerals and public events that are likely to get it media attention. Protests have also been held against Jews, and some protests have included West Baptist Church members stomping on the American flag. His wrath knew few bounds, attacking gay people, Jews, minorities, immigrants, politicians, celebrities and church leaders whose more tolerant theology he considered an abomination. All of this was protected by the Supreme Court as an exercise in free speech. Fred died in a hospice in Topeka, Kan. He was 84 years old. (bio by: Shock) 
Family links: 
  Fred Wade Phelps (1893 - 1977)
  Catherine Idalette Johnston Phelps (1907 - 1935)
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: John and Courtney Atkins...
Record added: Mar 20, 2014
Find A Grave Memorial# 126616591
Fred Waldron Phelps, Sr
Added by: John and Courtney Atkinson
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