Citizens of Distinction
John O. “Pat” Phelps, son of George E. and Elizabeth (née O’Keefe) Phelps, Sr., was born in Carthage in 1938. Pat attended Mark Twain Elementary School and finished his secondary education at Mercersburg Academy in 1956. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Missouri School of Law. Pat served in the U.S. Army and returned to Carthage in 1965 to begin his private law practice and serve as the District Attorney for Jasper County. He later worked as a trust attorney for United Missouri Bank before retiring in 2003. Carolyn B. Phelps was born in Carthage to George and Geraldine Beimdiek, Jr. in 1939. Carolyn attended Vassar University before graduating from the University of Missouri in 1960 with a degree in education. Pat and Carolyn married on August 6, 1960 and raised 3 children in Carthage.
Throughout their lifetimes in Carthage, Pat & Carolyn have dedicated themselves to community service. Pat has served on the boards of H.E. Williams, McCune-Brooks Hospital, Carthage Rotary Club, Powers Museum, Carthage R9, Jasper County Association for Social Services, and the Missouri Southern State University Board of Regents. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and St. Ann’s Catholic Church. Pat was named a 1972 Outstanding Young Man of America, received the Missouri Hospital Association’s Excellence in Governance Award, and Carthage Chamber of Commerce Richard M. Webster Citizen of the Year in 2005. Carolyn has served on the boards of Carthage R9, Carthage R9 Foundation, Missouri State Schools, McCune-Brooks Foundation, St. Luke’s Nursing Center, Carthage YMCA, MSSU Board of Regents, Missouri Southern Foundation Board, and the MSSU International Piano Competition. She is a member of the Mimosa Garden Club, PEO, and Grace Episcopal Church. In 2012, Pat & Carolyn were named Grand Marshals for the annual Maple Leaf Parade.
Together, Pat and Carolyn have been active participants in historic preservation efforts in Carthage and the surrounding area, including The Phelps House, The Sweet House, Jasper County Courthouse, St. Ann’s Church, the Goad’s Building on the Carthage Square, and Cave Spring School in Sarcoxie. They jointly serve as Directors Emeritus on the board of Carthage Historic Preservation. In addition to ongoing support for preservation, Pat and Carolyn have been generous givers to MSSU. In recognition of their gifts to the university, an Interdisciplinary Simulation Lab in the Leon Health Sciences Center and a theatre in the Billingsly Student Center are named in their honor. In 2015, Pat and Carolyn were also honored with the Spirit of Philanthropy Award from MSSU. In Carthage, the yet-to-be-built Performing Arts Center for Carthage High School will be named in their honor as the leading donors for the center. Pat and Carolyn’s family roots in Carthage run deep and they have given their time, talents, and treasure over their lifetime to enhance this community for generations to come.