Jim Phelps – UPDATED


Graveside services for 83-year old Jim Phelps of Crawford, NE, are Friday, November 12, 2021 at 2:00 PM at the Crawford City Cemetery.

A memorial has been established for Ponderosa Villa or the Crawford Historical Society. Donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain Chapel, PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.

Online condolences may be left at

James Carl Phelps was born May 7th, 1938 to Donna June Hamaker and James Quigley Phelps in Phoenix, AZ, and passed away at the Ponderosa Villa in Crawford, NE, on November 8th, 2021.

Jim was barely 17 when he enlisted in the United States Navy on June 30, 1955. He served 4 years, working on Aviation equipment and submarine chasers before being honorably discharged in 1959.

Jim married Virginia “Corky” on December 30, 1966, and together they raised 4 children: Christi, Donna, Jimmy and Theresa Hudson.

Corky passed away in 1986, but Jim found love for a second time and wedded Mary E “Ibet” Spray on June 24, 1987, at Fort Robinson State Park.

Jim was a member of the Elks in Chadron, VFW and American Legion, Eagles of Crawford where he served as Secretary and Vice President, and Knights of Columbus in Chadron. He served as a Crawford city councilman and was an active member of the Nebraska Historical Society and Vice President for the Crawford Museum.

Jim traveled from California, Arizona and Washington to Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, North Dakota and Missouri. His occupations were many, from professional house cleaner to construction.

He was a heavy equipment operator in the Civil Service in Wyoming, but started a 21-year career with Boeing in 1974 James started with Boeing Company, again as a heavy equipment operator, but with secret clearance as he transported nuclear warheads and ran mobile crane in Wichita, KS, for Air Force One, the President’s 747.

When Jim retired from Boeing in 1995, he returned to Nebraska. Fort Robinson State Park was a favorite place for him as he guided tours of the park.

Jim was a person of facts and humor, and for years kept both a diary with artistic caricatures and notebooks of cut-out jokes, current events, and political statements. He loved to watch the Civil War, Navy and History channels on both TV and computer.

He was a very social person, gathering for coffee and lunches in downtown Crawford, as well as the love of auctions – and he had a nickname for everyone.

James Phelps is survived by Christie, Jimmy and Theresa Hudson; Marcella and Ronnie Thompson; Darci Kuhnel; Deana Murphy; Chad and Kris Kuhnel; niece Jeanie Wise and nephews, Jimmy and Rob Phelps.

He was preceded in death by his parents, stepfather William Blanton, brother Robert Q. In 2019, sister-in-law Edie in 2005, and both his wives – Corky in 1986 and Mary in 2021.

See you in the buttes!

Chamberlain Chapel of Chadron is in charge of arrangements for Jim Phelps