Josephine "Jo" Phelps Fabian

April 1, 1937March 16, 2019

Josephine Phelps Fabian died peacefully at Emory University Hospital on Saturday, March 16, 2019 following a stroke.

Born in Roanoke, Virginia on April 1, 1937, Jo was the daughter of the late Josephine Yeatman Phelps and Roscoe Duke Phelps, Jr. A graduate of Converse College, she was a teacher, artist, homemaker, and philanthropist. She committed her life to preserving the classical elements of our civilization that bring beauty to life: music, philosophy, and the visual arts. While living in New York City, Jo was a board member of the Metropolitan Opera Company and was an active supporter of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She enjoyed traveling the world and her travel experiences broadened her understanding of how art and music enrich and enhance life. After returning to Macon in 2006, she focused her efforts on enhancing the arts in Macon; many organizations benefited from her generosity. She was a Board member of the Central Georgia Opera Guild, purchasing the necessary equipment to bring her beloved opera to the Douglass Theatre through the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD. Mercer University was also a significant beneficiary of Jo's philanthropic interests. While she supported a number of programs at Mercer, she was a great supporter of Mercer's Townsend School of Music and its McDuffie Center for Strings where she provided endowment funds for the Fabian Concert Series as well as the establishment of the G. Leslie Fabian Chair of Music. Following these gifts, she later established the Jo Phelps Fabian Center for Musical Excellence which will support the finest educational programs for outstanding aspiring musicians. “Through the invisible hands of music, the soul is touched and healed,” she said as an explanation for her gift.

In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her daughter, Margaret Phelps Matthews, and her husbands, Dr. Leo A. Erbele and G. Leslie Fabian.

She is survived by her brother, Roscoe Duke Phelps III of Roanoke, Virginia; stepchildren, John M. Erbele, Olivia E. Skey, Peter W. Erbele, Mary E. Bowman; and step-grandchildren, Jessica B. Donaldson, Martin P. Erbele, Virginia E. Weaver, Samuel T. Bowman, Allison E. Allen, and William P. Erbele.

A memorial service will be held at Snow’s Cherry Street Chapel on Tuesday, March 19th at 11:00 am with Rev. Paul Dziadul officiating. The family will receive friends at the funeral home following the service. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Macon Pops, Mercer’s Townsend School of Music, or Little Carnegie of the South.

Visit to express tributes. Snow's Memorial Chapel, Cherry Street, has charge of arrangements.


  • She is survived by her brother, Roscoe Duke Phelps III of Roanoke, Virginia, stepchildren John M. Erbele, Olivia E. Skey, Peter W. Erbele, Mary E. Bowman, and step-grandchildren Jessica B. Donaldson, Martin P. Erbele, Virginia E. Weaver, Samuel T. Bowman, Allison E. Allen, and William P. Erbele.


  • Memorial Service Tuesday, March 19, 2019
  • Visitation - Following the Service Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Josephine "Jo" Phelps Fabian

have a memory or condolence to add?

IngerBenedikte Stovall

April 1, 2019

Jo was a remarkable woman— so kind, gentile, gracious, intelligent, and very talented. I was blessed to know her .

Today was her birthday.

Sending loving condolences to her family.

Sincere regards from

Benedikte Stovall

Captain Teddy White

March 20, 2019

Jo and my late mother, Dr. Despina White ,were great friends a spent many happy hours on the sun baked shores of Vouliagmeni Greece with our Greek family. When they were not traveling the Amazon by steamship or visiting me in Honolulu they could be found somewhere between New York City and Macon; wherever there was good fun-food -and music.
I will miss the awesome dinners at Natalia's Restaurant with the two of them.
"Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage . Without her you would have never taken the road, But she has nothing more to give you."
C.Cavafis- ITHACA

Billie Yeatman

March 19, 2019

My husband, John (Jackie) Yeatman (deceased) was first cousin to Jo and they grew up in Roanoke, VA. In the late 70's, Jo and Dr. Erbele were flying from Macon to N. Dakota to visit Dr. Erbele's mother. They made an overnight stop in our city, Kansas City, MO. Dr. Erbele wanted a good KC steak so we took them for dinner at a local famous steakhouse. We took our two teenage sons, Larry and John, with us to dinner. They invited both boys to fly with them to N. Dakota. Only John was able to go. The following summer, Jo invited John to come to Macon for a two week stay. He had a great time. They took him everywhere and he has very fond memories of his vacation with them. Jo was a lovely and gracious person. She will be missed. Rest in peace, Jo.

John Yeatman

March 19, 2019

Josephine "Jo" Phelps Fabian was my second cousin. My father, Jack Yeatman, was her first cousin; they grew up together in Roanoke, Virginia. My father passed in Dec of 2002. She was known to me as “JoJo”. I only had several visits during her life. But those visits were significant memories in my life. She was a charismatic, lively and captivating person. She had grace, poise and style. She treated people with kindness and respect. She had a deep apperception of art, music and culture. I was blessed with the opportunity to know her daughter Margaret. I want to acknowledge Dr Erbele, he was a man of great accomplishment and treated me with kindness. Thank you to Erbele family.

Larry Yeatman

March 18, 2019

To the Leo Erbele family,

I'm so sorry to hear about Jo Jo's passing, and of your loss of her. I'm glad to hear that you and her have stayed in touch thru the years. I only met Leo once, when he flew into Kansas City in his airplane, and my Dad and Mom, and my brother John and I, met Leo and Jo Jo at the airport and gave them a case of Coors beer! At that time, Coors was unavailable in Georgia at that time and Leo must have liked that Brand of beer! My brother then returned to Georgia with Jo and Leo, and stayed with them a while that summer. My brother has talked of that trip often, and really liked Leo, he was a very nice man.

My brother and I met Jo, and her husband at the time, Les, in Roanoke for breakfast, about a decade plus ago. Not, terribly long after our Aunt Elizabeth passed away. Jo and I did exchange Christmas cards each year, and I kept her updated on my son, who is a helicopter pilot in the Army. My son just deployed last week with the Army, his 8th deployment overseas. I help take care of his 11 and 9 year old daughters, while he is deployed. His wife is a nurse and works strange and long hours, so she needs the help when my son is deployed. I would usually tell Jo about my son's activities.

I called her every now and then. She was interested in our family history, as am I. We have a family cemetery north of Roanoke with 6 relatives buried in it, that we take care of. Jo did help from time to time financially with that. I told her lately I'm just going to replace that fence around the cemetery, it's a 150 year old white picket fence, and I'm tired of painting it!

Thank you, for taking care of her funeral arrangements. I'm sorry I can't make the funeral tomorrow, I have to deal with the Grandkids. I'll send my contact info to the funeral home, in case you need anything. The Yeatman family, is small and dwindling, my 2 granddaughters are the last of us, Jo was really the bridge to the past in our family. Sincerely yours, Larry Yeatman

Cameron Pridgen

March 18, 2019

So sorry to learn of Jo’s passing. I was honored to take care of her medically several years ago. My thoughts go out to all her family and friends. Jo was always very kind to me, and the music legacy she has bestowed upon Mercer will go on long into the future. Rest peacefully, Ms. Jo.

B. Cameron Pridgen, M.D., FACOG