Obituary: Grace E. (Phillips) Phelan

Grace E. (Phillips) Phelan

NAUGATUCK — Grace E. (Phillips) Phelan, 95, widow of the late Gregory J. Phelan, Sr., who died in 1973, died comfortably and at peace, surrounded by her loving family, on Dec. 27 at the Middlebury Convalescent Center in Middlebury.

Grace was born in Manhattan on Valentine’s Day 1923, daughter of the late Howard and Grace (Stauch) Phillips, and lived in Naugatuck for most of her adult life. Following her husband’s death, Grace forged a new life for herself and became a nursing aid at the Middlebury Convalescent Center. Grace’s mission in life was to serve God, her family, her country, and care for others.

During WWII, Grace left her home to contribute to the war effort and worked making self-sealing bullet proof treads for tanks being sent to the front lines, as well as riveted fuel tanks for use in warships and bombers. She was our cherished “Rosie the Riveter” and a proud American.

During good times and bad, Grace was the rock and foundation of her family. There was always room for one or more at her dinner table, and extra food for those in need. During her life, Grace opened her home to family members as well as strangers during hard times.

Grace was an accomplished golfer both here in Connecticut as well as her years in Florida. She loved family gatherings in Naugatuck and Old Saybrook. She was happiest when surrounded by family and dear friends, and especially by a never-ending entourage of family pets, including her faithful dogs, Freckles and Chante. In addition, she was a member of St. Mary’s Church Alter Society, the Women’s Council at St. Francis of Assisi Church and the Women’s Club.

Until recently, Grace made trips to Arizona, Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey and the Grand Canyon to visit family.

Grace is survived by her son, Gregory Jr, (Barbara); her daughters, Donna Cleary and Elizabeth Frank (Stephen); her grandchildren, Peter Cleary, Scott Cleary (Tanya), Jennifer Zawacki (Matt), Allison Mitkowski (Ethan), Marybeth Perrelli (Joseph), James Phelan (Tracy) and Ryan Phelan; her great-grandchildren, Connor, Kaitlyn, Daniel, Jack, Grant, James and Dominic; and several cousins. In addition to her husband and her parents, Grace was predeceased by her son, James L. Phelan and his wife, Diane (Tucillo); and her son-in-law, Daniel Cleary.

Grace’s family would like to thank the staff at Middlebury Convalescent Home for the love, compassion and care that they extended to Grace while she was a resident.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday, Jan. 3 at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church, 338 North Main St., Naugatuck. Everyone is asked to kindly meet at the church. Burial will follow in St. James Cemetery. Calling hours are Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Buckmiller Thurston Mengacci Funeral Home, 82 Fairview Ave., Naugatuck.

In lieu of flowers and to honor Grace’s memory, contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, 5 Brookside Drive, Wallingford, CT 06492.

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