Leonard Eli Phelps, 86, of Punta Gorda, Fla., passed away Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012.
He was born Nov. 20, 1925, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Pearl (nee Goff) and Frank Phelps Sr.
Leonard served in the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine in World War II, until released upon the death of his only brother, Frank Phelps Jr. In the early ’50s, he began work at Decca Records as its Midwest Regional Representative, promoting artists such as Bill Haley and the Comets, Little Stevie Wonder, Buddy Holly and Sammy Davis Jr., to name a few. Leaving Decca, Leonard took on managing Chicago’s Famous “Cloister Inn,” fostering the early careers of “house act” Ramsey Lewis, Ahmad Jamal, Della Reese and Lenny Bruce, as well as headliners like Duke Ellington. Moving back to Cincinnati, he, with best friend and record distributor Mel Herman, began promoting and managing downtown Jazz hot spot “The Living Room.” The mid-’60s would bring Leonard’s work with “The Lookout House Supper Club,” a jazz entertainment dining complex, under one roof. The main room, with acts such as Count Basie and his Orchestra, and smaller solo to trio acts, performed simultaneously in the lounges. Seeking a slower pace and sunshine, Leonard made his way to the island of St. Thomas, where he managed the island “Sibs Mountain View” until 1983, when he finally settled in Punta Gorda, where he has been employed by “Royal Tee Golf Club” for the past 30 years.
He is survived by his loving family, including his wife of 35 years, Gaye Phelps; children, Krista Cassandra Phelps and Jonathon Erik (Christy) Phelps; grandchildren, Alia Corin Phelps, Rachel and Sara; and great-grandchildren, Luca, Malin and Beck.
Visitation will be held from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, at Coral Ridge Funeral Home, 1630 Pine Island Road, Cape Coral, Fla. Burial will be at Mote Cemetery in Pitsburg, Ohio. Please visit www.coralridgefuneralhome.com to leave thoughts and memories for his family.
Arrangements are by Coral Ridge Funeral Home.