Timothy F. Phelan, age 92, of Niles, IL, passed away on February 16, 2022 at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. He was born on June 8, 1929 at 13 O’Connell in St Clonmel Co. Tipperary, the youngest of 3 boys to Catherine Hannon and Michel Phelan, Grocer and Publican.
They owned a small pub at 13 O'Connell Street. Ted was born with curved femurs in both legs and as a baby they broke and reset his legs. The family lived over the pub, as family did a generation later. Ted's father Michael Phelan was one of 11 siblings born on a farm in Greignagower (the goat's pasture) Ballymacarbery County Waterford. The family farm is still owned by the Phelan family. Catherine was born on a farm near Mitchelstown Co Cork, also still owned in the family. She was one of five sisters, of which 3 moved to Chicago, around 1915, Nellie, Molly and Ann, who married Charlie Scanlon, John Fabian and Timothy Ryan. The other sister, stayed on the farm and married a Holton. The relatives of the 5 sisters get together for a family reunion to this day. Catherine and Michael met when she was a shop assistant and he was a draper’s travelling salesman. They bought the pub when they got married in the 1920's. The customers were a mix of farmers coming to town, local business men and local factory workers. Michael was known as ‘the solid man’ liked by all and generous to a fault. The three boys grew up fed but they were lean times (45% of their generation emigrated). Their father's passion was greyhound coursing, racing two dogs against a wild hare across fields. The 3 boys were also participants in traditional Irish dancing competitions. Ted's mother died in the 1950's from gastric issues (may have been GI cancer). Ted's father lived with his son Mick, until he died in his early 80's in 1973.
The story goes that Ted was the wildest of the three boys, assembled a gang of similarly minded lads who cruised the local dance halls, gambled, drank and got into a bit of trouble. Apparently after he and a few friends broke up the furniture in a dance hall, his parents hoping that a change would be good for everyone, strongly suggested that he go to work for his father's brother Jack who had a bar in Manhattan, when he was about 25. One story from his NY bartending time Ted told me is a woman who came into the bar to use the bathroom, she was so high on drugs that when she came out she was totally naked with her clothes left behind in the bathroom. Ted tried to convince her to get her clothes on but she refused. So Ted went out onto the street and found a cop. The cop sorted the poor woman out by beating her back into the bathroom with his night stick. Ted then moved to Chicago , where his mother’s sisters had settled and became a bartender at the famous Berghoff’s restaurant for more than 40 years. He married the love of his life, Eleanor Guerin, and he and Eleanor lived a wonderful life together, settling in their lovely condo in Niles, IL for many years. Eleanor passed away about 7 years ago and Tim will now join her in heaven. Tim was 92 years old at the time of his death and on the day he died, he drove to his favorite restaurant and organized a party for 24 of his relatives, who had the party on March 5th to toast Tim in his new adventure.
A memorial service will be held at Fedde-Helfrich-Cross Funeral Home on Saturday, June 11 at 10:00 a.m. with committal services following at Peotone Cemetery at 10:30 a.m.. After the service, a luncheon will be held at 12:00 p.m. at Joseph’s Restaurant, 3123 W. 111th St., Chicago, IL Sign the guestbook at www.feddehelfrichcrossfh.com
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