Country-Western Guitarist. He was a member of the Phelps Brothers with his brothers Norman and Earl (both deceased), who performed in more than 20 B-western films during the 1930s and 40s with titles like "Sagebrush Serenade" and "Trouble in Sundown." They later opened the Fernwood Farms recording studio and dance hall in Norfolk, Virginia, which used by the likes of Patsy Cline, Jimmy Dean, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow and Bill Monroe. Phelps hundreds of songs, including "I'm Beginning to Forget You" for Elvis Presley.
Deceased Name: WILLIAM T. PHELPS SR.
William Thomas "Willie" Phelps Sr., 89, of the 2400 block of Shafer St., died March 1, 2004, in a Norfolk hospital. A native of South Norfolk, he was the son of the late William J. and Lula May Selbe Phelps. He was a Navy veteran of World War II and a musician/songwriter who continued performing until his retirement just a few months before his death.
The Phelps brothers, Norman, Earl and Willie, were known as "Norman Phelps and the Virginia Rounders" and were enshrined in the local legacy program of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. In earlier years, they went to Hollywood where they made more than 20 short and feature-length Western movies. They later, for many years, starred on radio and television and made numerous recordings. Willie was an original member of the Virginia Country Music Association and a member of the Western Swing Hall of Fame in Sacramento, Calif., and Seattle, Wash.
He is survived by his wife, Susie Faye Phelps; three daughters, Sherry Dennis of Chesapeake, Bobbie Beard and husband Ed of Virginia Beach and Judy Riggs and husband Les of Newport, N.C.; a son, William T. Phelps Jr. and wife Pat of Chesapeake and their mother, Ruby Sutton Phelps of Chesapeake; a sister, Lillie Hively of Norfolk; nine grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren; and a great-great-grandchild.
A private family memorial service will be held at Graham Funeral Home, South Norfolk chapel, with Pastor Charles Mann and the Rev. Pete Taylor officiating. Friends and family are invited to share in a celebration of life which will be held at the Eagles Club No. 795, 516 Post Ave., Chesapeake, Sunday at 3 p.m. Memorial contributions should be made to the Diabetes Institute Foundation, 855 W. Brambleton Ave., Norfolk, VA 23510.
Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA) - March 4, 2004 Page B6
Copyright (c) 2004 The Virginian-Pilot (obituary provided by Dottie)
Bio by: Butterfly