Margaret Dorsey Phelps

Margaret Dorsey Phelps

Margaret Dorsey Phelps

Iowa City

Margaret Dorsey Phelps, 82, of Iowa City, died on Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, at Briarwood Health Care Center, after a long battle against Parkinson’s disease.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Lensing Funeral and Cremation Service. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City. Interment will take place at Oakland Cemetery.

Born on Aug. 13, 1940, in Denver, Colo., to Gerald R. and Helen “Betty” Wetlaufer, Dorsey was raised with her sister Ann and brother John in Oelwein, Iowa, to which their father had returned to run the family business, an industrial laundry. She graduated from the University of Iowa where she met Charles D. Phelps, of Waterloo, who became a medical doctor. They married in 1964 and lived in Boston, Mass., where she was on staff of the encyclopedia Notable American Women at Radcliff College; Oxon Hill, Md.; and St. Louis, Mo. They settled in Iowa City when Charles joined the staff of the university’s medical school, eventually to head the department of ophthalmology.

Dorsey was a devoted mother to her children Christopher, Amy, James and Jennifer, creating a home at 318 Ferson Ave., full of music, reading, cooking, gardening and parties. She was active in the choir and vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church, involved with the community effort to save Lincoln Elementary School, and elected to the Iowa City Community School District Board of Directors (1979-1985), serving as president. After the death of Charles of cancer at age 47 in 1985, Dorsey obtained a Ph.D. in History from the University of Iowa in 1992 and taught at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa, before retiring a few years later to Iowa City.

There she cared for her grandchildren Gilbert and Paul after school, and hosted Grandma Camp for visiting grandchildren Emma, Nowell, Rosa and Carlos, all of whom she adored. She enjoyed walks with her three successive dogs, Ph.D., Dexter and Eloise. Although she was raised Republican and a “Goldwater Girl” in high school, Dorsey became an ardent Democrat, campaigning for John Kerry and Barack Obama in their presidential bids, and volunteering at the polls. She was involved with Daughters of the King, the Nineteenth Century Club, and fierce Scrabble contests at Melrose Meadows, her home late in life. Most of all, she loved spending time at the Point House on Big Sand Lake, Minn.

Charitable donations for Parkinson’s research may be sent to the Department of Neurology, University of Iowa, c/o Karen Rock, 200 Hawkins Dr., Iowa City, IA 52242.

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