John D. Phelps, 68, evaluated military equipment at APG


John Downing Phelps, a retired chief of testing and evaluation at Aberdeen Proving Ground, died Feb. 14 of Alzheimer's disease at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Perry Point. The Churchville resident was 68.

Born in Kansas City, Mo., Mr. Phelps graduated from Lexington High School in Lexington, Mo., in 1943 at 16, then attended the Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington.

During World War II, he served in the Navy's V-5 program at Brown University in Providence, R.I., from 1944 to 1945.

He attended the University of Missouri at Columbia and graduated with a degree in electronic engineering in 1947.

He moved to Baltimore and lived on North Charles Street in what is now Charles Village.

He pursued further studies in electronic engineering and attended the Johns Hopkins University.

In 1949, Mr. Phelps enlisted in the Army and was a Technical Specialist in electronic testing at the APG until 1952.

While in the military, he was a member of the Showcrafters, an amateur theater group in Baltimore.

In 1953, he married Elizabeth M. Pickett, who survives him.

He remained at the APG and held several positions in the testing and evaluation of electronic components.

When he retired in 1989, he was chief of instrumentation for the Test and Evaluation Command, a unit that oversaw testing and evaluating of laser and radar equipment for the military throughout the country.

For his outstanding service at APG, Mr. Phelps received several superior performance awards and four civilian meritorious service awards during his years there.

He was a member of the Army Ordnance Association, the Association of the U.S. Army and was a past president of the Churchville Ruritan Club. He served on the vestry and as treasurer at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Churchville.

He enjoyed sailing and photography, and was active in the Boy Scouts of America.

In 1963, he and his wife organized Baltimore's first door-to-door collection drive for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Besides his wife, Mr. Phelps is survived by a son, Thomas D. Phelps of Worcester, Mass.; a daughter, Carolyn E. Phelps of Forest Hill; a brother, George C. Phelps of Elkhorn, Neb.; three nephews and two nieces.

A memorial service was held yesterday at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Burial was private.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Baltimore and Central Maryland Alzheimer's Disease Association, 1850 York Road, Suite D, Timonium, 21093.

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