Ltc. William Bryant Phelps, U.S. Army, Ret., 92, of San Antonio, passed away Thursday, July 5, 2018. William was born Feb. 9, 1926 in Waelder to Joseph Henry Phelps and Leona Seitz Phelps. He married Mildred Ruth Kelso on Dec. 20, 1947 in Waelder. His beloved Mildred passed away in December of 2000. William married Danielle Pravaz in March of 2002 and she passed away in July of 2008.
William Phelps graduated from Waelder High School with the Class of 1942. He enlisted into the Reserve Corps in 1943 under the Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Training Program. Due to a reduction in the aviation training program, William was assigned to 11th Armored Division. As a 1st sergeant, William served as a tank gunner in this division’s 42nd Tank Battalion, which was part of General George S. Patton’s 3rd Army.
On Jan. 1, 1945 at the age of 18, 1st Sgt. Phelps — along with many brave soldiers — were embroiled in a devastating battle remembered as the “Battle of the Bulge.” Outmatched by German Tiger tanks, the Americans were overwhelmed and suffered many losses. Phelps’ tank was rendered immobile by a Tiger 88mm shell, but the crew still manage to destroy a German Tiger before leaving their disabled tank and escaping into the woods.
More months of fighting positioned William and many other American troops at the gates of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, which they liberated, but left haunting memories of unmentionable evil. William continued to honorably serve his country through and with the U.S. Army in Korea and Vietnam, retiring as a well decorated lieutenant colonel in 1970.
He went in to the insurance business and was a Farmers agent for 42 years, finally closing his office in San Antonio in 2013. He worked his own cattle ranch in Thompsonville for many years while working as an insurance agent.
William Bryant Phelps is survived by his loving daughter, Wanda Louise Phelps of San Antonio; granddaughters, Kristi Erin Perry and husband Corey of Fircrest, Wash., and Michelle Marie Wishard and husband Gordon, Jr., of Seattle; great-grandchildren, Miles and Scarlett Perry and Watson William Wishard; and brother-in-law, Ello Filip. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Mildred Ruth Phelps; second wife, Danielle Phelps; parents; daughter, Wendy Lorraine Phelps; sisters, Dorothy Duncan and Betty Filip; brother, Joseph Norman Phelps and half-brother, Linnie “Fritz” Seitz.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 14 at the Thompsonville Community Church with Rev. Todd Craven officiating. Interment will follow in the Thompsonville Cemetery. Pallbearers are Frank Avery, Ben Duncan, David Duncan, Richard Duncan, Corey Perry and Gordon Wishard. Honorary pallbearers are David Allison and Carl Duncan. The family will receive friends from 10 - 11 a.m. Saturday in the Thompsonville Community Church prior to the service.
Memorials may be made to the Thompsonville Cemetery Association or the charity of one’s choice. Friends may leave their condolences by visiting www.seydlerhillfuneralhome.com. Services are under the care and direction of Seydler-Hill Funeral Home.