Irene J. Phelps

Honored by:Austin H. Phelps
Brick location:PAVER:23  map

Irene Jelatis married Austin Phelps in Ames Iowa on March 18, 1950. The brick in the plaza is to mark and celebrate 50 years of our marriage. Ancestry - George Demetrius Jelatis came to America from Greece in 1900; Maria Michaels and her mother Eirene came in 1910; they became Naturalized Americans with all deliberate speed. They married in 1916 in Lowell, MA.

Irene Jelatis and her two brothers Demetrius and John were born in Lawrence, MA. They spoke only Greek until their first year in school as well as being tutored in reading and writing Greek. They grew up in Somerville, MA and she attended Simmons College for Women in Boston where she got a degree in Library Science. Her brothers attended MIT and Harvard. All three worked at MIT during WWII.

Irene wanted to be an artist but chose librarianship as a practical profession. She worked at Clark Univ. Worcester, MA Radcliffe (one summer) MIT Eastman Library Brookhaven National Laboratory (for the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy) and started up the Physical Sciences Library at Iowa State college Ames, IA in 1949.

On Mar. 18, 1950 she married Austin Hamilton Phelps III in Ames, Iowa. They moved to Cincinnati OH where she did her best to become a corporation wife at Procter & Gamble and to raise two daughters Irene and Georgia. Fifteen years later library work entered her life again as cataloger of the Modern Greek Collection at the University of Cincinnati where she learned to type catalog cards in Greek. The position led to some renewed interest in her heritage and to her first trip to Greece. She has since made seven trips there alone and with Austin.

She also did a stint as librarian for the Jewish Hospital School of Nursing where she revamped the student's library to make it more of a professional teaching library.

She has travelled widely both with her husband and on her own. Her travels alone have been to England, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Madeira, Egypt, and Israel and Austria; to Europe by Eurail from Greece to Denmark and back to the Aegean with 14-year-old Georgia; and with Austin to Alaska, Australia and New Zealand, Greece, Brazil, England, Belgium, Canada, Hawaii, Kenya, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, the South China Sea, Switzerland and Turkey. By Dec.1999 they have done 40 Elderhostels in the U.S. and abroad.

Her favorite reading is biography history and historical novels and "all the news that's fit to print" in the New York Times. An obsession since 1963 and (Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique) has been the study of Women's History at the college level.

In Cincinnati, she was a Founding Member in 1980 of Friends of Women's Studies at the University of Cincinnati and is a Founding Member of Friends of Women's Studies at the University of Texas since 1989. She is also a Founding Member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts Washington D.C. and of the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA.

Other obsessions or hobbies have been drawing painting sewing doll collecting miniatures and doll houses home decorating and quilt-making. She came to Austin, TX in July 1989 the best move she ever made. She is happy to have become a LAMP charter member, (a continuing education program for seniors at the University of Texas) an American History Club member, a member of the local Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and of the Austin Wednesday Morning Music Club. Her religious affiliation is with the Greek Orthodox Church Austin, TX.

She has been a library volunteer at the Cincinnati Art Museum at the LBJ Archives and at the Ladybird National Wildflower Research Center in Austin. She is proud of having maintained a successful and happy marriage for 50 years. Her only regret is she never learned to play the piano but her daughters did.


Paver Inscription:

"Irene J Phelps
On Our 50th
Wedding Anniversary
March 18, 2000"