Michael Edward “Uncle Mike” Phelan, 75, of Mingo, departed this world (as he lived his entire life, squarely on his own terms) Wednesday, April 14, 2021, at Iowa Lutheran Hospital in Des Moines, but the epic stories he told (repeatedly) and those he evoked will live on forever. A funeral mass will begin at 3 p.m. Monday, April 19 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Colfax. Burial will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday, April 18 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. A Rosary will be recited beginning at 3:30 p.m. and a Vigil Service will begin at 7 p.m. Memorials may be directed to Holy Cross Cemetery or the Mingo Men’s Club and condolences may be left for the family at coburnfuneralhomes.com.
The son of Martin and Mary (Rooney) Phelan, Mike was born on the 4th of July, 1945, in Des Moines and never lost the conviction that the celebrations occurring each successive July 4th were exclusively on his behalf. Those left to honor his memory include his brothers, Patrick (Janet) Phelan and William (Sara) Phelan; sister, Sr. Ann Martin Phelan; sisters-in-law, Mary LeePhelan and Jana Phelan; as well as several nieces and nephews. Preceding Mike in death were his parents; brothers, John Phelan and Martin Phelan; and a sister, Sr. Mary Ann Phelan.
Mike was a proud graduate of Mingo High School, Mohawks Class of 1963, helped organize the annual Alumni Banquet, and was involved in civic activities for many years with the Mingo Men’s Club. Mike was a member of Holy Cross Church in Farrar (and, until its closure, Sacred Heart Church, where — due to his countless responsibilities over the years — he was known colloquially as the “bishop of Valeria”) and was a member of the Knights of Columbus. Mike lived his entire life in the Mingo area and farmed for more than four decades with his brother, Pat, although his business card read, succinctly and correctly, “Guru of Everything.”
Skilled raconteur, world traveler, avid follower of sports, and connoisseur of classic rock’n’roll, Mike was truly one of a kind, and literally never met a stranger. A Renaissance man as skilled and comfortable on the tables of Las Vegas as in the cab of a tractor, he was a storyteller in the Irish tradition (that is to say, a world-class embellisher) who laughed easily and often, always kept things light and was the first one at every party. Mike’s irreverent sense of humor and mission to keep everyone else humble enabled him to hone the art of grief-giving to a fine point, and the more he liked you, the more grief you were likely to get. No one was immune, whether Vatican officials, Franciscan nuns, Blackjack dealers, neighbors at the Co-op, or nieces and nephews (and their spouses/significant others, who often required an ‘orientation’ before meeting Uncle Mike for the first time).
Finally, Mike was a man whose regrets were few, who loved life, had a deep and abiding faith, and was the epitome of generosity of spirit. He had an unquenchable curiosity and asked questions as astutely as he listened to their response. The informal family motto, “Well, we got that done,” could accurately be applied to Mike’s life, as could his frequent parting statement, which was, appropriately, “Glad you got to see me.” Indeed, we are, too, Uncle Mike. Godspeed and farewell ‘til we meet again.