He was also excommunicated from the church in Aug 2013
His son, Timothy Phelps, confirmed to Kansas' WIBW that Fred Phelps died "before midnight" on Wednesday. His daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, also confirmed news of the death to the Topeka Capital-Journal. However, at least one family member seemed to dispute the reports of his siblings, as attorney Jonathan Phelps told WIBW: "Pastor Phelps is doing just fine." The network notes this could be a spiritual reference.
"I can tell you that Fred Phelps is having some health problems," WBC spokesman Steve Drain told the Lawrence Journal-World Sunday. "He's an old man, and old people get health problems." A spokesperson for the Westboro Baptist Church was not immediately available for further comment Thursday.
Nate Phelps, one of Fred Phelps' estranged children, wrote a Facebook post on March 15 saying his father was "on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas." He also revealed Fred Phelps had been excommunicated from the church in August 2013. The Topeka Capital-Journal later reported the excommunication occurred after he called for kinder treatment of fellow church members. The Westboro Baptist Church was established in 1955 by Phelps. Over the years, the Topeka-based group became infamous for their vehement anti-gay rhetoric and picketing of funerals. In 2011, NPR reported the church only had about 100 members, almost all of whom were from Phelps' family.