Denfeld News

July 16, 2010
Denfeld Alumni News

Denfeld's oldest graduate dies in Duluth at 103

Margaret E. "Ches" Phelps, believed to be Denfeld's oldest living graduate, died July 16 at Benedictine Health Center in Duluth. She is likely to have been the last surviving graduate from Denfeld's former building at 725 N. Central Ave.

She was also the longest living member of Bethany Lutheran Church. She was confirmed there (in Swedish) in 1945 and had been an active member of her church circle and its quilting club.

She was born in Bararyd, Sweden on Sept. 11, 1906, to Carl and Anna Eckstrom and came to America when she was one year old. She graduated from Denfeld in 1924.

She began her working career with Western Steel Co., and in 1934 started work with the Duluth News Tribune, where she worked for 40 years, retiring in 1974 as executive secretary to the publisher.

She married Hamilton Phelps in Duluth in 1945.

After her retirement she volunteered at Miller Dwan Hospital for over 20 years and also had served as an election judge for many years. She enjoyed traveling, golfing, skiing, skating and reading. She always had a good joke to tell and a big laugh to go with it. Her zeal for life and positive attitude were unmatched, along with her ability to recover from life's adversities.

Frances Slennes (class of 1928) is now believed to be Denfeld's oldest graduate. She lives in West Duluth and is 101 years old.

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