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Former Oxford mayor, MU admin dies

By Krista Savage, News Editor

Bernard Phelps, age 93, died at The Knolls Retirement Center Friday, April 24. Phelps served as the founder of Miami University's Hamilton branch campus, and former Oxford mayor.

"It is difficult to capture the fullness of the life Dr. Phelps lived and his impact on Miami University, Hamilton and Oxford," said President David Hodge.

A veteran, Phelps moved to Oxford in 1956 and began teaching within the speech department in 1948. He quit teaching in 1967, when he began planning the Hamilton branch campus.

Phelps had a significant impact on Miami through serving as Hamilton's first executive director. He and his wife established the Bernard and Margaret Phelps Scholarship Fund for Miami Hamilton students. Nearly two-thirds of the buildings on campus today were constructed during his tenure. One of them was named after him (Phelps Hall).

Throughout his life, Phelps was extremely active in the Oxford community. He became mayor along with serving as chairman of the charter commission. Beyond these duties, he served as the first chairman of McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital. He also had a large role in planning the arrival of The Knolls of Oxford.

"What comes through, above all else, was his enthusiastic and caring personality, along with his amazing creativity and resourcefulness," Hodge said. "On behalf of the entire Miami community, I extend our sympathies to his family and friends as we remember and honor his legacy."

Many feel the same way about the death of Phelps. Miami University Associate Provost and Dean of the Regional Campuses G. Michael Pratt expressed his condolences.

"Dr. Phelps was the driving force behind Miami Hamilton for the first 16 years of its existence," Pratt said. "Dr. Phelps was devoted to the Hamilton campus and its students. He started Miami Hamilton, and today's students are part of his lasting legacy."

Dick Keebler, former mayor of Oxford and council member of eight years, knew Phelps and his family during his term as mayor.

"He was such an upstanding individual," Keebler said. "He had an amazing work ethic and personality. His legacy will live on."

A memorial ceremony for "Bernie" Phelps will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 28 at the Knolls of Oxford.

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