Mark Phelps 1958-2022

ROANOKE, Va. — With friends, family and under the caring hands of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Mark Phelps of Roanoke, Va., completed his journey in this world on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

Born March 11, 1958, to Robert and Betty Phelps, Mark lived his early life in Warren, Ohio, and was a 1976 graduate of Warren Western Reserve High School. Mark attended Case Western Reserve University and graduated from the School of Engineering, with honors, in 1980. He grew up in the First Baptist Church of Warren and lived in a neighborhood that was a haven for all the children with whom Mark shared childhood memories.

As a teen, Mark was an Explorer Scout and engaged in building a hang glider; through his pastor, he was introduced to backpacking; with the WWR Ski Club, he learned to ski; and as a young adult, he took up sailing. He became an avid enthusiast of challenging outdoor experiences. Adventure trips with his Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers and a leave from his professional career to spend a winter season in France enjoying the people and world-class skiing, were treasured. Always active as a young adult, Mark played and coached soccer. He was great with children and later got into model rocketry as a hobby he could share with his young nephews and his friends.

Mark’s career with General Electric in Salem, Va., spanned four decades. Initially, he worked as a field engineer on large turbine installations. Later, Mark worked on systems and teams coordinating computer programming of power system controls and specifying hardware to support control functions. The support of his co-workers and leaders early in his career were essential in his transition, once disabled.

Thankfully, Mark thrived on technology and was able to continually enhance his independence by mastering and deploying technical aids. He had tremendous patience, a keen mind, and innate problem-solving abilities, which served him and those around him well. Mark seemed to be able to figure out how to accomplish any task.

Numerous people in the Roanoke Valley area were touched by Mark. He had the most incredible network of care providers that made it possible for him to maintain a level of independence in the face of his disability. It was this network that made possible several cruise trips and visits to Virginia’s eastern shores. He was known for extending a supportive approach to others, a recognition that while he required much help, he enjoyed helping others and was thrilled by personal triumphs they shared with him.

A prolific volunteer, Mark worked with the Dale Carnegie program; the F.R.E.E. Foundation; Roanoke County Library and taught a job coaching class at Goodwill. Mark was active in Toastmasters for many years and thrived on the opportunity to become a better speaker, support others and engage in competitions. He served as a board member for the Blue Ridge Independent Living Center and found it great fun to be selected as a judge for the Miss Wheelchair Virginia Pageant in 2008.

Mark leaves behind many friends to cherish his memory, amongst them are the care providers that remained committed to his well-being, especially Ms. Joyce Shepherd.

He is survived by his sister, Suzanne Koehler of Norfolk, Va.. and nephews, Lee Koehler of Rapid City, S.D., and Paul Koehler of Roanoke, Va.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Visitation is planned to take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2022, at Oakey’s South Chapel in Roanoke, Va. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 18, 2022, also at Oakey’s South Chapel.

Memorial gifts may be made, in Mark’s name, to the F.R.E.E. Foundation of Roanoke, Va.

Arrangements entrusted to Oakey’s Funeral Service – South Chapel, Roanoke, Va., 540-989-3131.

(special notice)