A tribute to William “Bill” Phelan.
The bus conversion community lost a strong supporter and participant this year when William J. “Bill” Phelan passed away on March 17, 2017. Bill and Brenda bought their first bus, a 1971 Eagle Motorcoach in 1997 and did their own complete conversion from passenger bus to Phelan home on wheels. In 2002, they began a conversion of a 1994 Prevost, also from scratch as a passenger bus, to a very beautiful, newer Phelan home. They rolled wheels for well over 10 years on the road, participating in many rallies, forums, websites, and their own business of custom RV windshields and rugs. Bill was always ready to help another bus owner when he could, whether it was providing support on the forum or in person.
From Jack and Paula Conrad: “Bill and his wife Brenda are fellow Busnuts and great friends of ours. We first met Bill and Brenda at our first “Bussin” Rally in 2001. Not only was this the first rally we had hosted, it was the first rally we had attended. As coaches arrived, we were letting them park wherever they wanted in the 10 acre field the rally was held in. When Bill and Brenda arrived, Bill informed us we needed to park the coaches in an orderly fashion and immediately volunteered to do that for us. It was the start of a great friendship.”
Bill and Brenda did the registration and parking at all of the Arcadia Bussin’ Rallies. They were a fixture in being the recognizable duo greeting rally guests when they arrived, sometimes for the first time. They made a gate sign, put up an awning, and handed out the bags of goodies. Bill provided a welcoming smile, a few jokes or comments, and firm guidance on rules and parking. They were always ready for the first arrivals, and helped in getting the rally set up as well as providing security at the gate.
Bill and Brenda stepped in and took over the Rallies from Jack and Paula in 2011. They arranged and made their own way as rally hosts, providing food and entertainment with the same friendliness and camaraderie first displayed by Jack and Paula that made the Arcadia Rally a success, drawing coaches in from as far West as California, Saskatchewan, and North to Minnesota, Ontario, and Maine. They ran the rallies for another 5 years before having to give them up due to health reasons. Bill found he had MS in 2012 and his health gradually reduced some of his capabilities.
From Tom Mason: “I worked with Bill and Brenda in their business as his health made some things difficult. Bill was one of the hardest working guys I know, and very innovative. He found a way to cobble things together to make work more efficient for their business, making a common Van into a compressed work van to do everything on the road, later buying an ambulance and customizing it. He’d modify tools, make custom tools, and find better ways to operate. Up early every morning, he was 3 years older than me, but I was beat after trying to keep up all day.”
Brenda is now running that business making custom RV patio mats and windshield covers out of their Lakeland, FL home, and on the road when needed.
Bill, we will miss you in the bussing forums. Heaven will get even better now with Bill helping if that’s possible. Rest in Peace Bill Phelan.