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Cuffe-McGinn Funeral Home

157 Maple Street, Lynn, MA

OBITUARY

Dr. John V. Phelan Jr.

January 10, 1924November 28, 2019
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Dr. John V. (Jack) Phelan, Jr. of Swampscott, formerly of Lynn, died peacefully on November 28, 2019 at the Kaplan Family Hospice House after a brief illness. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 70 years, Eleanor A. Phelan.

He is survived by three of their children and their spouses: John V. Phelan III and his wife, Mary, of Swampscott; Mark M. Phelan and his wife, Robin, of Boxford; and Matthew C. Phelan and his wife, Erolynn, of Swampscott and is preceded in death by their daughter Maureen Phelan. In addition, he is survived by eleven grandchildren and their spouses: John IV and his wife Katie, Erinn, Michael, Tiffany, Patrick, Catherine, Aileen, Caroline and Michaela Phelan, Kimberly Phelan Nothnagel and her husband Eric, and Helene (Phelan) Larsen and her husband Tryg; and four great- grandchildren: Susanna and Charley Nothnagel and Stella and John Vincent Phelan V, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and extended family.

Jack was born January 10, 1924 in Lynn, a son of the late Judge John V. Phelan and Helene (Crowley) Phelan. His sister, Marie B. Phelan, and his brother, Robert G. Phelan and his wife, Shirley, precede him in death.

Jack graduated from Lynn English High, the College of the Holy Cross, Tufts Medical School and completed his residency at Boston City Hospital. During World War II, he served in the Navy and when war in Korea was declared, he re-enlisted in the Air Force and spent two years in the Medical Corps at Mitchel Air Field in New York. After leaving the Air Force, Jack practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Lynn for almost 40 years, delivering more than 10,000 babies along with his partner and friend, the late Dr. Lester Jenkins. He was also the Health Commissioner for the City of Lynn for 18 years. He volunteered many hours at the free clinic at the former Lynn Hospital.

Trained in classical music in early youth, by his teen years he had taught himself to play boogie-woogie and ragtime. Traditional New Orleans jazz became a lifelong passion. He accumulated a massive record collection specializing in early American music, much of which was transferred to the Library of Congress.

In 1960, he heard an original jazz great, Kid Thomas, playing with the Algiers Stompers in New Orleans, and realized that the band had never been recorded. With much effort and no prior experience, he was able to set up and produce a recording session at Tulane University featuring clarinetist Raymond Burke. The resulting record was a Trad Jazz best seller for years.

Jack played piano with the Scollay Square Stompers and the New Liberty Jazz Band. He often sat in with other bands as well as playing solo gigs around the Boston area and at the Toronto Ragtime Festival. He is featured with his friend Jimmy Mazzy playing “Creole Belles” on an album recorded live at that festival. Jack and Eleanor were avid travelers, visiting many remote and primitive locations as well as world capitals.

He was a communicant and supporter of St. John’s parish in Swampscott, and did much good work for Catholic Charities of Lynn.

Jack was devoted to Eleanor for almost 70 years. Through her last years of illness, he nursed her himself and never left her side. With Eleanor, he created and nurtured a happy family. He raised principled children and instilled in them a strong set of values. He gave them the confidence to face the world. He was a good and honest person with a keen mind and a strong sense of integrity, and everyone who knew him liked and admired him. It will feel very strange to go forward in a world without him in it. He left this world a better place. He will be sorely missed.

Service Information: A funeral Mass to celebrate his life will be held at St. John Church, 174 Humphrey St., Swampscott, on Wednesday December 4, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. Interment to follow at St. Joseph’s Cemetery. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. Visiting hours will be from the CUFFE- MCGINN FUNERAL HOME, 157 Maple Street, Lynn, MA on Tuesday December 3, 2019 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. Donations in Jack’s memory may be made to the Smile Train, P.O. Box 96231, Washington, D.C. 20090-6231.

Services

  • Visiting Hours Tuesday, December 3, 2019
  • Funeral Mass Wednesday, December 4, 2019
  • Interment Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Memories

Dr. John V. Phelan Jr.

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Bill Kennedy

December 5, 2019

I didn't know Dr. Phelan but he was my mother's doctor and he delivered me at Lynn Hospital over 62 years ago. My mother always spoke very highly of him. I recently found a receipt among my mother's things for my delivery and my mother's care. It was signed by Dr. Phelan's wife, Eleanor. Condolences to the Phelan family.

Jimmy Mazzy

December 3, 2019

We are sorry to not be with you in person. The weather and our health issues make it unwise. But you can be,assured that you are on our minds and in our hearts at this difficult time and we hope the many years that your family was intact will give you comfort as you get accustomed to being the older generation now.
With our prayers,
Carrie and Jim Mazzy

Stan Vincent

December 2, 2019

Jack, a great and good man. Carol and I have many happy memories of summer poolside parties at Phelens with the Black Eagles, informal jazz sessions, scrumptious food, and laughs on into the night. Our thoughts are with the extended family.

Craig Ball

December 1, 2019

I got to know and play with Jack in the late 70s when I came back to Boston from the Army to stay and pursue graduate work at Harvard. I was privileged to play with the Scollay Square Stompers, including a grand wedding put on by Jack and Eleanor. I spoke with him by phone earlier this year when one of his sons with with him at home, and many years earlier shared health concerns of a younger member of his family in connection with the same with one of my own. You could always count on him to lay down toe-tapping rhythm on the piano, great fun to play with and a devout, kind and truly upright man whose council I very much valued, one of the Greats. I last played with him on the back of the New Liberty Jazz Band fire truck for South Boston's St Patrick's day parade a few years ago, which BTW is a little more staid and less participatory than it used to be.

Jim and Carrie Mazzy

November 30, 2019

Jack and Eleanor were a central part of jimmy's circle of friends and support when I became a part of his world, and what a truly wonderful world it was. They surrounded him with love that truly exemplified the spirit of the early jazz era that allowed the crossing of the barriers that made the music universal. Jack and the Osgoods introduced Jim to that music and changed his life.

Ronald L'Herault

November 30, 2019

Jack formed a band in the mid 1970s, the Scollay Square Stompers. He invited me to play trombone with the band. I probably would not be playing today if it weren't for Jack. He and I shared a great love for New Orleans Jazz, ragtime and 78 rpm records. He threw the best New Years Day parties ever, with everything perfectly done thanks to Eleanor. Let the heavenly party begin.

Alan Barnes

November 30, 2019

Sending deepest condolences and prayers for all.

Dan MacInnis

November 30, 2019

Jack was a great piano player. He traveled with us, The New Liberty Jazz Band, on our antique fire truck for many years. He graciously held rehearsals in his home. Although it's been a while since he performed with us, he was always in our minds, and will be forever.

Samuel Keyser

November 30, 2019

Jack and I were members of the New Liberty Jazz band for years until age and accidents put an end to that. Driving to and from gigs together, we came to know one another as friends as well as fellow band members. I often emceed our stationary performances. On one occasion I introduced Jack as an ob gynecologist who had delivered over 10,000 babies in his professional life and had never lost a baby. I only did that once. After the gig, Jack took me aside and asked me not to introduce him in that fashion again. He said every doctor knows that that doesn't happen without a huge dollop of luck. Of course, I honored Jack's wishes. But that doesn't mean I believed it. Jack had one foot in the world of medicine and one in Dixieland Jazz. He was superb in both.

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FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Dr. John V. (Jack) Phelan, Jr. of Swampscott, formerly of Lynn, died peacefully on November 28, 2019 at the Kaplan Family Hospice House after a brief illness. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 70 years, Eleanor A. Phelan.

He is survived by three of their children and their spouses: John V. Phelan III and his wife, Mary, of Swampscott; Mark M. Phelan and his wife, Robin, of Boxford; and Matthew C. Phelan and his wife, Erolynn, of Swampscott and is preceded in death by their daughter Maureen Phelan. In addition, he is survived by eleven grandchildren and their spouses: John IV and his wife Katie, Erinn, Michael, Tiffany, Patrick, Catherine, Aileen, Caroline and Michaela Phelan, Kimberly Phelan Nothnagel and her husband Eric, and Helene (Phelan) Larsen and her husband Tryg; and four great- grandchildren: Susanna and Charley Nothnagel and Stella and John Vincent Phelan V, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and extended family.

Jack was born January 10, 1924 in Lynn, a son of the late Judge John V. Phelan and Helene (Crowley) Phelan. His sister, Marie B. Phelan, and his brother, Robert G. Phelan and his wife, Shirley, precede him in death.

Jack graduated from Lynn English High, the College of the Holy Cross, Tufts Medical School and completed his residency at Boston City Hospital. During World War II, he served in the Navy and when war in Korea was declared, he re-enlisted in the Air Force and spent two years in the Medical Corps at Mitchel Air Field in New York. After leaving the Air Force, Jack practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Lynn for almost 40 years, delivering more than 10,000 babies along with his partner and friend, the late Dr. Lester Jenkins. He was also the Health Commissioner for the City of Lynn for 18 years. He volunteered many hours at the free clinic at the former Lynn Hospital.

Trained in classical music in early youth, by his teen years he had taught himself to play boogie-woogie and ragtime. Traditional New Orleans jazz became a lifelong passion. He accumulated a massive record collection specializing in early American music, much of which was transferred to the Library of Congress.
In 1960, he heard an original jazz great, Kid Thomas, playing with the Algiers Stompers in New Orleans, and realized that the band had never been recorded. With much effort and no prior experience, he was able to set up and produce a recording session at Tulane University featuring clarinetist Raymond Burke. The resulting record was a Trad Jazz best seller for years.

Jack played piano with the Scollay Square Stompers and the New Liberty Jazz Band. He often sat in with other bands as well as playing solo gigs around the Boston area and at the Toronto Ragtime Festival. He is featured with his friend Jimmy Mazzy playing “Creole Belles” on an album recorded live at that festival.
Jack and Eleanor were avid travelers, visiting many remote and primitive locations as well as world capitals.

He was a communicant and supporter of St. John’s parish in Swampscott, and did much good work for Catholic Charities of Lynn.

Jack was devoted to Eleanor for almost 70 years. Through her last years of illness, he nursed her himself and never left her side. With Eleanor, he created and nurtured a happy family. He raised principled children and instilled in them a strong set of values. He gave them the confidence to face the world. He was a good and honest person with a keen mind and a strong sense of integrity, and everyone who knew him liked and admired him. It will feel very strange to go forward in a world without him in it. He left this world a better place. He will be sorely missed.

Service Information: A funeral Mass to celebrate his life will be held at St. John Church, 174 Humphrey St., Swampscott, on Wednesday December 4, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. Interment to follow at St. Joseph’s Cemetery. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. Visiting hours will be from the CUFFE- MCGINN FUNERAL HOME, 157 Maple Street, Lynn, MA on Tuesday December 3, 2019 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. Donations in Jack’s memory may be made to the Smile Train, P.O. Box 96231, Washington, D.C. 20090-6231.