Phelps remembered, group will press on

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 2, 2005

Edward Wendell &uot;Turkey&uot; Phelps, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit still pending against Pioneer Electric Cooperative, died on Sunday, March, 2005 at his home in Midway.

According to the office of Doyle Fuller, the plaintiffs’ attorney, while his death leaves a void, the lawsuit will go forward.

Many people who knew Phelps called him tenacious, while some said he bordered on abrasive.

But they are also quick to point out that was what made him who he was.

&uot;I never had a problem with Wendell’s zeal for his cause,&uot; said Susan Copeland, an attorney with Fuller’s office.

&uot;He would have made a great lawyer. He knew his facts before he acted.&uot;

She said knowing those facts is one reason the firm took on the case and they were honored to work for him.

&uot;It is always an honor to represent people with a good cause and that want to right a wrong and we were certainly honored to represent Wendell,&uot; she said. &uot;I am very sorry that we will not have the benefit of his participation in the litigation but I am certain that Wendell will be monitoring everything we do from Heaven.&uot;

Margaret Pierce, president of Rural Electric Members Action Committee, praised Phelps for his work with the organization and said he is irreplaceable.

&uot;Wendell was totally committed to REMAC and I think every waking hour that he wasn’t conducting personal business, he was working for REMAC,&uot; she said.

&uot;While the formation was a group effort, Wendell certainly played a role in getting us to that point.&uot;

She said Phelps’ involvement from the beginning was to get answers on why the rates for Pioneer were as high as they were and why allegedly there was such a high debt.

&uot;Those were questions that he had and a lot of other people had,&uot; she said.

&uot;We weren’t just a few people asking these questions.

It just happened that we were the few people organized to try to get some answers.&uot;

She said she and many others have lost a friend with Phelps passing.

&uot;Wendell was really a unique individual and he had a keen mind and when he got a hold of something he held on with bull dog tenacity,&uot; she said.

&uot;With all do respect he was sometimes abrasive, but that was Wendell.

He had a big heart and had a lot of heart for those he felt were downtrodden.&uot;

She said she never had any doubts that Phelps believed in the causes he took part in whether it was REMAC, Civitan or the Dixie Majors.

She said the best tribute now to Phelps would be to carry on and see the work he began be finished.

&uot;As a tribute to Wendell, REMAC and its membership will continue to work towards the goals he had in mind including increasing our membership here and also developing chapters in other cooperatives,&uot; she said. &uot;That’s a bold step, but we are already working on a similar group in Baldwin County.&uot;

But she said it will be tough without Phelps, and there is not need to try to replace such a valuable person.

&uot;We will not try to fill his shoes, because you don’t do that,&uot; she said.

&uot;You seek to work hard to accomplish his goals.&uot;

Phelps served as vice-president of the organization and Pierce said a planning session was held late in the week to discuss the vacant office.

&uot;We had a great meeting Thursday that lasted about three hours and we had representatives from Butler, Lowndes, Dallas and Wilcox counties here and we discussed what to do with the open office,&uot; she said.

&uot;Our nominating committee will find us suitable candidates and we’ll choose one to finish the remaining months on Wendell’s term.&uot;

This will likely be an item on the agenda at REMAC’s next quarterly meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 14 in the courthouse annex.