George J. Phelps, O.S.A.

1923 – 1942 (July 10)

George Kraus Phelps was born on June 19, 1923 in Rockford, Illinois to Schley Scott Phelps and Ethel Kraus. He was baptized on July 15, 1923 at St. Mary Catholic Church, Rockford, and received the first six years of his elementary education in the parochial school there. He completed grades 7 and 8 at St. Patrick Parish, also in Rockford, at which parish he was confirmed. He then enrolled in St. Thomas High School, Rockford, and after three years entered the Augustinian formation program at Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, New York, where he earned his high school diploma.

On September 9, 1941, George was received into the Augustinian Novitiate, and professed simple vows in the Order on September 10, 1942.  Following profession, he began collegiate studies at Villanova College, Villanova, Pennsylvania.

After successfully finishing one year of college, Brother George and other members of the Augustinian community were vacationing at Sea Isle City, New Jersey. He was swimming in the Atlantic Ocean along with four other students when a high wave caused him to tumble over and a stiff undertow carried him away from shore.  Three of his fellow swimmers searched for him, while the fourth ran along the beach to the nearest lifeguard station for help.  Lifeguards and a crew from the Sea Isle City Coast Guard Station patrolled the area for two hours before the body was found washed into shallow water about a half-mile away. Artificial respiration was applied for two hours before he was pronounced dead. He was 19 years old.

Brother George was an excellent student and an accomplished musician. He played flute, piano and organ. His was the first death among members of the new Augustinian Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel, founded in 1941.

Brother George is buried in the Augustinian plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois.