Michigan Tech Mourns Loss of Stanford N. Phelps

Amanda and Stan pose with a dinosaur at National History Museum
Stanford N. Phelps (right), late chair of S.N. Phelps & Co., with Michigan Tech alumna Amanda (Vogt) Conner ’10 (middle), vice president of S.N. Phelps & Co.

Stanford “Stan” Phelps, chair of S.N. Phelps & Co., passed away June 6, 2019, at age 84. A graduate of the Phillips Exeter Academy, Yale, and Harvard, Mr. Phelps was a pioneer of the Wall Street junk bond market and was known to Michigan Tech as a supporter of the Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP) and its students. He hired School of Business and Economics interns and graduates who went on to thrive in the financial industry, including Amanda (Vogt) Conner ’10, Vice President of S.N. Phelps & Co. She says of Stan: “He was my boss, mentor, and friend. Stan helped develop my investment skillset and shape my career, while also teaching me the importance of philanthropy. I am forever grateful for the nine years I was able to learn from him.”

Dean Johnson, dean of the School of Business and Economics, adds, “Stan lived a principled life and sought to pass these principles on to future generations. His impact on the careers of many APMP students is just one of his many legacies. We were pleased that this year’s APMP team was able to meet with Stan and Betsy this past spring in Greenwich. Our heartfelt condolences are with Betsy and the entire family.”

Stan Phelps’ obituary, which appeared in The New York Times and Greenwich Time, is below:

Stanford Newton Phelps died peacefully at home in Greenwich, Connecticut on June 6, 2019, at age 84. He is survived by his beloved wife, Elizabeth Richmond Phelps; his son, George; his daughter, Catherine, and son-in-law, Daniel McNamara; his grandchildren, Maxwell, Garrett, and Ford; his brother, Barry Phelps; his sister Jeanette, and brother-in-law, Whitney Evans.

Mr. Phelps was chairman of the board of S.N. Phelps & Co., Commonwealth Oil Refining Company (CORCO) and Clear Springs Land Company, home of Clear Springs blueberries. His earlier career in the bond business included stints with Citibank, F. S. Smithers and Drexel Burnham Lambert where he started their high-yield bond department. He served as the second lieutenant in the United States Army from October 1956 to April 1957.

Mr. Phelps was born in Rochester, New York, the son of Jeanette Coon and Stanford Newton Phelps. The family moved to Detroit and later back to Rochester when Mr. Phelps left to attend Phillips Exeter Academy in 1948. He graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1952, and subsequently from Yale University in 1956 and Harvard Business School in 1960.
Mr. Phelps was devoted to his church, First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich in Greenwich, Connecticut. Mr. Phelps was a generous supporter of his church and many educational and Christian organizations, including Hartwick College from which he received an honorary Doctor of Laws, Harvard Business School, Keck Graduate Institute where he was on the Board and received a Doctorate of Applied Life Sciences, honoris causa, The Madeira School, Navy Seal Foundation, Polk State College, and Yale Peabody Museum where he served on the Peabody Leadership Council. Throughout his life, however, his highest charitable priority remained his high school alma mater, Exeter.

In Mr. Phelps, Exeter lost one of its most loyal and enthusiastic supporters. The breadth of his commitments grew from a heartfelt devotion to education, his desire to improve opportunities for Exeter students and his deep respect for Exeter’s faculty. He was most proud of his Phelps Scholar-Athlete program through which he provided one hundred seven students with scholarships to attend Exeter. Through his philanthropy, Mr. Phelps sought to inspire others to support the school he loved. In an address to the student body in 2001, he put it this way, “You will be remembered for what you give – not for what you get”.

In all aspects of his life, Mr. Phelps was guided by two principles he learned while a student of Greek and Latin at Exeter: Athanatos esti psyche, “The soul is immortal,” and Nil sine Deo, “Nothing without God.” All those who knew Mr. Phelps will remember him and take comfort in these two phrases. He will be deeply missed by his family, his friends and by the school he loved.

A service in celebration of the life of Stanford Newton Phelps will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, One West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, Connecticut 06830.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be directed to the First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich (pcg.org).