Palo Alto High School's band is brushing up on "When the Saints Go Marching In" to honor Lue Phelps, who, at 89, was still working at Paly until a month before she died Sunday.
Phelps was at her desk, working as a data processing clerk in Paly's counseling office when colleagues noticed she was ill and took her to the Stanford University Hospital Emergency Room Feb. 16.
After four days in the hospital Phelps was released to hospice care where she died March 14, according to Paly Assistant Principal Kim Diorio.
"She was a real institution here, and Paly was her home," Diorio said. "She literally worked for us until her body just quit on her.
"She had no interest whatsoever in retiring. She loved the kids, she loved the people she worked with and she felt like she was doing a good job."
Phelps had lived in Palo Alto since the mid-1940s, raising her daughter Jennifer while pursuing a career in local pharmacies and later with the Emporium department store before joining the Palo Alto school district, family members said.
At Paly for the past 30 years, Phelps previously had worked at her daughter's schools, the former Wilbur Junior High School (now JLS) and Cubberley High School, until they both closed.
Her husband, Delmer Phelps, died in 1976.
The Paly community will hold a memorial service for Phelps in Paly's Senior Court on April 8 at 2:15 p.m.
"She wanted a Dixieland jazz band to play 'When the Saints Go Marching In' as we all proceed out at the end of her memorial," Diorio said.
Members of the Paly choir also will sing for Phelps.
Phelps is survived by her daughter, Jennifer Phelps White, of Albuquerque, N.M.; two grandchildren, Colleen and Kevin; a great-grandchild, Devin; and many nieces and nephews, Jennifer White said.