ROANOKE, Va. – Along with friends, family, and under the caring hands of Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Mark Phelps of Roanoke, Va., completed his journey into this world on Saturday, May 7, 2022.
Born March 11, 1958 to Robert and Betty Phelps, Mark grew up in Warren, Ohio and graduated in 1976 from 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 Warren’s First Baptist Church and lived in a neighborhood that was a haven for all the children Mark was with. shared childhood memories.
As a teenager, Mark was a scout explorer and engaged in the construction of a hang glider; through his pastor, he was introduced to hiking; with the WWR Ski Club, he learned to ski; and as a young adult he started sailing. He became passionate about stimulating outdoor experiences. The adventure trips with his Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers and time off from his professional career to spend a winter season in France enjoying the people and the world-class skiing, were precious. Still active as a young adult, Mark played and coached soccer. He was great with kids and later took up model rocketry as a hobby he could share with his young nephews and friends.
Mark’s career at General Electric in Salem, Virginia 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 colleagues and leaders early in his career was essential in his transition from disability.
Fortunately, Mark thrived on technology and was able to continually improve his independence by mastering and deploying technical aids. He had incredible patience, a quick wit, 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.
Many people in the Roanoke Valley area have been touched by Mark. He had the most incredible network of caregivers who allowed him to maintain autonomy in the face of his disability. It is this network that has made possible several cruises and tours of the eastern shores of Virginia. He was known for extending a supportive approach to others, an acknowledgment that even though he needed a lot of help, he enjoyed helping others and was delighted with the personal triumphs they shared with him.
A prolific volunteer, Mark has worked with the Dale Carnegie program; the FREE Foundation; Roanoke County Library and taught a professional coaching course at Goodwill. Mark has been active in Toastmasters for many years and has taken the opportunity to become a better speaker, support others and compete. He was a board member of 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, among them the caregivers who remained committed to his welfare, especially Mrs. Joyce Shepherd.
He is survived by his sister, Suzanne Koehler of Norfolk, Va. and his nephews, Lee Koehler of Rapid City, SD, and Paul Koehler of Roanoke, Va.
His parents predeceased him.
Visitation is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2022 at the South Oakey Chapel in Roanoke, Virginia. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 18, 2022, also at Oakey’s South Chapel.
Memorial donations may be made, in Mark’s name, to the FREE Foundation of Roanoke, Va.
Arrangements entrusted to Oakey Funeral Service – South Chapel, Roanoke, Va., 540-989-3131.