Henry Phelps Day

Henry Phelps Day
By: Mike Shain

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Monday, the city of Cape Girardeau celebrated Henry Phelps Day.
For some, that begs the question "Who is Henry Phelps?"
That's certainly not a question ever asked by those who've met him.
Henry Phelps is a man who spent much of his life helping others.  From soap box derbies to serving the rotary club, he's always ready to help.
Now, he's battling cancer and leaving the club he's been a member of for decades. But, his friends are not about to let him leave without knowing how much he's appreciated.
Henry Phelps is the first rotarian others meet when they arrive every Monday.  He's been sergeant at arms for 20 years.
"Henry runs a tight ship as you all know.  Everyone that comes in that door registers.  Everyone is made to feel welcome and everyone pays," said Joe Sullivan a fellow Rotarian to a roomfull of chuckles.
"Henry asked the question today before his family started arriving how much he should charge them," Sullivan said.
Rotary club members, friends and family gathered to honor a man who's served his church, neighborhood and so many others in his 88 years.
The "Henry Phelps Top Ten List" reveals a different town in 1918 when baby Henry was adopted and brought to Cape.
"Number six on the list of things you need to know about Henry, the house where Henry lived on north Main was built by his grandfather to house downstairs a saloon and a dance hall.  And on the second floor, smaller rooms with locks on the doors for 'working girls,'" said Sullivan to more laughter. "I am not making this up."
Henry Phelps doesn't know how much time the cancer will leave him but says he's had a good ride.
"I happened to be adopted by some perfect parents and brought here to Cape Girardeau where I had a perfect place to grow up in.  I had a happy childhood, a fulfilling adulthood and I've about outlived the medical systerm.  So, I've beat them all the way around and I'm ready to die any minute now," Phelps said.
Henry Phelps has lived life on his terms, but not overlooking others and their needs.  His friends say he's led a life of good humor and an unending string of jokes.