Clara B. McGuire Phelps, 93, formerly active in the Billings community and politics, died May 19, 2013.
Mrs. Phelps was born on the family ranch at Rocky Prairie, Wash., on Jan. 11, 1920, the only child of John D. McGuire and Isabel Whitaker McGuire. She graduated from Tenino High School in Tenino, Wash., in 1937.
After college training courses, she went to work for the state of Washington Licensing Department in 1939. During World War II, she became one of the first women to manage the Licensing Department. She also received clearance from the U.S. State Department to send and receive secret wartime messages.
She married Lt. James Harvey Phelps on Nov. 4, 1942, in Olympia, Wash. He died March 9, 2008.
In 1944, Mr. and Mrs. Phelps moved to Pocatello, Idaho, where he worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. In 1970 they moved to Billings, where Mr. Phelps worked as a railroad safety inspector with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Mrs. Phelps moved to Beaverton, Ore., in 2010 to be with her children.
Mrs. Phelps had been active in the Idaho PTA, serving as president; was a Cub Scout den mother and Girl Scout leader; and was active in the United Methodist Church as board chairman for two years. She served Methodist Church Circles as president and wedding chairman and was on the endowment committee. She taught Sunday school and was a United Methodist Youth Fellowship adviser. She was a 50-plus year member of Moss Agate Chapter 126, Order of the Eastern Star in Billings.
She was a member of The Mother’s Club of DeMolay in Pocatello and worked with Bethel 1 of the International Order of Job’s Daughters in Pocatello. In Billings, she had served as the guardian of Bethel 7 and was an honorary member of Bethels 7 and 10. From 1976 to 1977, she served as grand guardian of Montana of the International Order of Job’s Daughters, and from 1978 to 1979 was supreme fourth messenger for the organization.
She served on many political central committees and political campaigns and met many elected officials, including three U.S. presidents. She had been a member of the Daughters of Washington Pioneers, the Social Order of Beauceant and a Shrine Lady. She had been active in the Yellowstone Chapter of the Audubon Society.
Survivors include a son, James Howard Phelps III of Beaverton; a daughter, Martha Ann Brooks-Waley of Beaverton; four grandchildren; five stepgrandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and seven great-stepgrandchildren.
Burial was May 28 at the Masonic Memorial Park Cemetery in Olympia with Eastern Star graveside services conducted by the Tenino Eastern Star Chapter. Viewing was May 28 at Funeral Alternatives in Tumwater, Wash.
Donations may be sent to the Scottish Rite Language Clinic, 514 14th St. W., Billings, MT 59102; or to the Montana Audubon Society, P.O. Box 595, Helena, MT 59624.