Celebrating Teachers: Ada Copley Phelps

As another school year comes to an end, we looked through our photograph collections for images of local teachers. We found the Davenport High School graduation photos of Ada Rebecca Copley from 1918.

Ada was born January 28, 1900 near LeClaire, Scott County, Iowa to Richard and Ida (LaGrange) Copley. Ada was the couple’s only daughter and grew up with four brothers.

Ada Copley – 1918. DPLVolume 251 #17338a

Ada graduated from Davenport High School in June 1918 and started teaching at the Laurel School near Summit, Scott County, Iowa in September 1918. In 1920, Ada left her teaching position to enter the University of Iowa. She returned to teaching for the Davenport Independent School District in the fall of 1922 before being hired full-time for the district.

Ada Copley – 1918. DPLVolume 251 #17338b

In 1928, Ada married Glen A. Phelps on June 26, 1928. Ada continued teaching for the Davenport School District after her marriage. She is listed as a teacher in the U. S. Census of 1930, but is not employed in the U.S. Census of 1940 where she is married to Glen with a one month old daughter.

The Daily Times, June 27, 1928. Pg. 8

Glen obtained his pilot’s license in August 1930 and Ada was not far behind when she obtained hers in December 1930. They became the first couple in Iowa to both have their pilot licenses. They would later build their home on 200 acres of farmland they purchased in 1933 on Jersey Ridge north of Kimberly Road. The Phelps built a landing strip and hanger for their Velie Monoprop behind the house so it would not be a distraction for their neighbors. (Quad-City Times July 22, 1987. Pgs. 35, 38)

Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 12, 1931. Pg. 12

In 1987, Ada developed her property into Windsor Meadows subdivision.

Quad-City Times, July 22, 1987. Pg. 35

Ada Copley Phelps passed away on August 6, 1996 leaving behind three children, six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. She is buried adjoining her husband (who passed away in 1957) in Oakdale Memorial Gardens in Davenport.

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