Edna Moore Phelan of Auburn, AL, a devoted wife, mother and adoring grandmother, died July 29, 2023 in Atlanta, GA at the age of 80.
Born February 2, 1943 in Brooklyn, NY, the daughter of Ralph and Madeline Moore, Edna graduated from Clay County (FL) High School where she was voted the most popular senior and Homecoming Queen before enrolling at Florida State University. While at FSU, Edna became a member of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and received her degree in Fashion Merchandising. During her days at FSU and as an active member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, she was in the original “Zeta Picker Band”, a washboard band that started as a sorority rush skit and evolved into playing at various venues around Tallahassee. Playing the washboard with thimbles on her fingers, Edna and the band were invited to be on the TV program “The Ted Mac Amateur Hour” to open a new auditorium in St. Petersburg. In addition to the band, Edna had the distinct honor of being a member of the nationally famous Florida State Student Circus, specializing in the triple trapeze and swinging ladders.
It was at the end of her days at FSU when an invitation to a Naval Ball and an introduction to Naval Academy Midshipman Richard “Dick” Phelan would change her life. Around one year later, the two would marry, leading to a love affair that would last a lifetime. Following their marriage, they would live in numerous cities around the country as Dick was serving as a Navy Aviator, rising to the rank of Captain. During those early years while Dick was in Vietnam, Edna led the wives’ support group, ensuring that all of the spouses were connected, comforted and taken care of, particularly wives of POW’s including John McCain’s first wife Carol.
The union of Edna and Dick brought about the next loves of her life, their four children Kelly (Parkman), Lindsay (Dendy), Scott and Todd Phelan, all born in different parts of the country due to their early nomadic Naval stations. Eventually, they settled back in her hometown of Orange Park for an extended period before moving to Northern Virginia as Dick was appointed to a position in the Pentagon. With his Naval career coming to a close, their final posting was in Auburn, AL as he was appointed Commanding Officer of Naval ROTC unit at Auburn University. While they assumed it to be a temporary posting when they arrived in 1988, they have never left, both becoming pillars in the Auburn community. Edna would work as a Media Specialist at Auburn Junior High School and was a member of the Auburn United Methodist Church.
In Auburn, Edna reconnected with Zeta, serving as its Housing Corporation President and Advisor for more than 24 years. Becoming actively involved in the design of the chapter room, the planning for the annual rush of incoming sisters, and contributing to its Breast Cancer philanthropy “Big Man on Campus” annual event, she was a guiding influence in the lives of many Auburn students. Edna was especially proud of her role with Zeta and its chapter room as it would become a tourist attraction when she would entertain her 10 grandkids. According to the Auburn Zeta’s, “she showered our chapter with love, compassion and an infectious sense of spunk! Her genuine care and mentorship touched the lives of countless sisters, inspiring us to become better individuals and fostering a stronger, united sisterhood. Her commitment to ZTA’s values was unparalleled and she leaves behind a legacy that will continue to guide us as well as a true testament that “Zeta Is Forever.”
It was those 10 grandkids that would become the next loves of her life and where she would take on the affectionate name of “MoMo”. When all were born, those 10 grandkids ranged in ages from 8 years old to a new born, with three girls and seven boys, making for a perfectly fine chaotic adventure flawlessly led and coordinated by MoMo. Whether it was the family beach trip to Ponte Vedra, FL, the annual family photo or the yearly Christmas gathering, MoMo orchestrated them all to perfection, even sometimes re-doing the blowing out of birthday candles to make sure the picture was perfect. Not only did she entertain and dote on the 10 grandkids, particularly though her Instagram birthday postings of each “Grand”, but she also instilled many life lessons that her grandkids called “MoMo-isms.” She was an incredible and active presence in each of their lives and was always available to take charge at a moment’s notice, regardless of the time or place.
The last love of her life was her country. Her love and dedication of the USA was constant, inspired through her upbringing in a military family, to marrying a military man to then planning the family vacation for the week of July 4th where she would lead the celebrations decked in the red, white and blue of her beloved USA. She was actively involved in assisting Dick in coordinating the annual Memorial Day Remembrance event in Auburn each year, the last of which honored Dick as Veteran of the Year.
Her dedication and loyalty to her husband, her children and their spouses, her grandchildren, her community, her sorority and her country is the essence of Edna Moore Phelan.
She was preceded in death by her parents Ralph and Madeline Moore and her brother Jimmy.
Survivors include her husband Richard (Dick) Phelan; daughters Kelly Parkman (Mark) and Lindsay Dendy (David), sons Scott Phelan (Holly) Todd Phelan (Alice); grandchildren Hannah Grace Dendy, Alex Parkman, Lyla Phelan, Conner Phelan, Will Parkman, Davis Dendy, Riley Phelan, Charlie Parkman, Bennett Phelan and Ella Claire Dendy; and a brother, Ray Moore.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to the Edna Moore Phelan Memorial Scholarship of the Gamma Rho Chapter of the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority at Auburn University. To make the donation please use the link: https://zta.crowdchange.co/33757
A Celebration of Life is planned for Sunday, August 13th at 3:00 p.m. CENTRAL TIME at the Auburn United Methodist Church, 137 South Gay Street, Auburn, AL.