Jerry Philbrick

My curiosity finally got the best of me. After reading Comptche resident Jerry Philbrick’s almost weekly letters to the AVA I just had to meet him. How many people around here sign their letters with the tag line “God Bless Donald Trump”?

So on a picture-perfect fall morning last week I hit the road to visit Jerry and Terry Philbrick at their home in Comptche. 

When I asked Terry how I would know their house she said “You can’t miss it.” She was right. A couple miles down the Comptche-Ukiah Road after turning right at the fork with the post office and general store, I spotted Jerry’s bright-red pick-up and parked in front of a hand-painted sign that read “Jerry Brown Sanctuary City.”

I had definitely come to the right place.

After passing through the gate and walking up the path up to his house, Jerry came out onto his front deck to greet me. I have rarely been given a warmer welcome. Knowing nothing whatsoever about me (or my politics, for that matter) he gave me a bear hug after we stepped past a very protective Airedale and into the living room, which in many ways is a personal museum of both the many phases of Jerry’s working life and his diverse outside interests. Several rifles stood in one corner and a beam across the ceiling had spurs from his rodeo days. “I rode bulls in rodeos for 12 years,” he said. There were also pieces of specialized logging equipment from his many years working the forests. “I did everything in the woods you can possibly do,” he said. “I started my own logging business in 1961 and had 40 employees.” He said he stopped working just three years ago but still fills in when he’s needed. There was also football memorabilia from his years of both playing and coaching football locally. “I played my last game ten years ago when I was 72,” he said. “It was an alumni game that we lost to Fort Bragg, six to nothing. I felt fortunate to be able to still play the game.” 

Jerry’s wife Terry joined us in the kitchen. Next July they will have been married 30 years. They married in Boonville. “She’s been chasing me around ever since!” he said. “With a spatula!” Terry laughed. In the way of tight-knit rural communities, they knew each other casually for years. But as in many budding romances, there was THE MOMENT, in their case at Mendocino Coast Hospital in Fort Bragg. They were on side-by-side gurneys; he had just had one of 11 knee operations and she had just delivered her daughter. They looked across at each other and something clicked. They’ve been together ever since. 

As it turned out they are related, but not by blood. “His ex-wife and I have the same first cousin,” Terry said. They have ten grandkids between them. Jerry credits her with saving his life when he technically died in a medevac helicopter en route to Santa Rosa to treat his misdiagnosed acute pneumonia. His heart stopped beating before they landed and would have stayed that way had Terry not asked the medical crew to continue CPR. “He’s a logger and a tough guy,” she said, and after more CPR his heart started beating again. 

After that scare Jerry said that his doctor asked him if he wanted to stay on the couch watching butterflies or again live an active life. He chose active and today he has a defibrillator embedded in his chest. It records data from his heart with a hand-held remote-control monitor that sends that data electronically to his doctor.

Jerry is fourth generation Mendo and has lived mostly in and around the Comptche area his whole life. His father’s grandfather, who moved there from Maine, fought in the Civil War. His great-grandfather’s wife was one of the first doctors in Mendocino. Over the years his large family acquired land in the Comptche area, which at one point grew to 12,000 acres. Most of it has been sold off over the generations though Jerry and Terry have 60 acres. 

Their story is very much a family affair. His 95-year-old uncle lives across the street and still puts in a big garden every year on his property. Laughing, Terry said, “He still cusses up a storm!” Jerry’s 90-year-old aunt lives in Fort Bragg. “She’s beautiful,” he said. “If I didn’t know her and I saw her in a bar somewhere I’d jump right on her. She’s somethin’ else.” He also has a brother in Ukiah and a sister in Covelo.

Jerry wore a Trump hat, which he said his daughter sent him since “you can’t find one around here,” and psychedelic-looking mirrored sunglasses, a combination well suited to his all-around moderate political views. He was far more rational and thoughtful than most Democratic activists I’ve spoken with. “I know many Democrats, Truman and JFK are my idols,” he said. “There are decent Democrats and there are liberals; they’re as different as night and day. I invite anyone to come to come speak with me personally about it but nobody ever does.” 

He said his relationship with Earth First! founder Judi Bari, who was nearly killed in 1990 by a car bomb in Oakland, a federal crime still unsolved, is a good example. “Judi Bari and I hated each other but we were good friends,” he said. “We agreed to disagree.” He said he attended a county supervisors’ meeting where Bari tried to filibuster the meeting and made threats about her organization’s plans to interrupt local logging operations. “I stood up and said somebody else needs to talk. Then I said that if any of my equipment is damaged, or if one of my guys gets hurt, the shit’s gonna hit the fan.” Jerry said his comments earned him a visit from the FBI. “They blamed me for the bombing,” he said, still incredulous about that all these years later. 

Jerry said he’s always been a Republican but became more conservative when he left the Navy; he thought the government neglected the service people who had risked their lives for their country and its freedoms. For him it was a matter of respect, a strong belief still today, a respect that extends to patriotic symbols like the American flag. “I stopped my logging truck in the middle of the road next to the local school because they didn’t have the flag up,” he said. “I walked into this classroom unopposed because of our freedoms,” he told the teacher, who said the students got in late and didn’t have time to raise the flag. “I said you’re the adult here, make them do it. Then she called our county supervisor and accused me of being a terrorist!” But he says that now the flag is up every day. “There are kids 24 years old who have only known liberalism,” he said. “When people attack the flag, the Constitution, and the Second Amendment it pisses me off.”

Jerry said that his relationship with the AVA began when publisher Bruce Anderson got wind of the Redwood Practical Shooters, a group of 30 or so that gets together for shooting tournaments. He said the paper labeled them “Camo Buddies,” which prompted Jerry to write a nasty response – which was printed in the paper, word for word. He said he was impressed with the unfiltered openness and has written for the paper pretty regularly ever since. “If somebody pisses me off I say ‘I’m gonna call Bruce Anderson,,” Terry laughed. 

About Trump, Jerry said that he supported him and predicted he would win from the day he announced his candidacy for the presidency. “He doesn’t take any crap from anybody,” he said. “He’s done a lot of good stuff, but the better he does the more liberals attack him.” Jerry said he sees the divisiveness of the country as a huge problem. “What would this country be like if the parties got along? We’d be the strongest country in the world.” He says he has mixed feelings about the size of the defense budget. “Couldn’t we take a little bit of that money and take care of our cities, attack crime here?” he asked. 

Then there’s gun control. Nobody likes to see kids blown away in their classrooms, of course, and Jerry says he sees more school security as a possible solution. People leaving the military, for example, could be hired for school security. But basically he sees guns as a way to protect himself and others. He lifted one of his pant legs to show me a pistol in an ankle holster. Never having touched a pistol, I asked him what it was. “A Glock 40,” he said. “Terry carries a gun, too.” He asked me if I carry a gun. Nope. “How about pepper spray?” he asked. Nope to that, too. He encouraged me to consider it, for my own protection. He also thought of my safety as I said good-bye, complete with warm hugs from both of them. Jerry had noticed me tottering around, still recovering from a hip replacement, so he spotted me on the steps. 

He never did ask me about my politics.

Terry & Jerry Philbrick

30 Responses to "Jerry Philbrick"

  1. Harvey Reading   October 17, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    How sweet: sort of like Aint Bee interviews Ma and Pa Kettle at home.

  2. james marmon   October 17, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Judi Bari and her gang of “monkey wrenchers’ did hit my father John Woolley, of Woolley Logging, and almost destroyed him. Insurance covered some of the repair costs, but not lost harvest income.

    They hit him twice.

    James Marmon (aka Jim Woolley)

    • james marmon   October 17, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      The Monkey Wrench Gang

      A major inspiration for Earth First! came from the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey, a self-described anarchist whose father was rumored to have been a member of the anarchistic labor union the Industrial Workers of the World.[

      Abbey’s novel described four wilderness lovers who used “monkeywrenching,” meaning the sabotage of equipment, to stop ecological destruction in the southwestern United States.”!

      • Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 11:45 am

        Instead of reading some blurb online, how about reading the book? Too lazy? Well, here’s something easier, go on Youtube and listen to the live performance of Rider in the Rain, feathering Ry Cooder and Linda Ronstadt, by Randy Newman, who wrote the song in honor of Ed Abbey’s earlier novel, The Brave Cowboy.

        And for your information, James, The Monkey Wrench Gang was not the major inspiration for Earth First! It was the only inspiration for Earth First! There was nothing before and, not withstanding the sequel, nothing has come since, although I’m still holding out for a major motion picture starring Mr. Reeves as Hayduke.

        • Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 11:56 am

          The Canyonlands have been so thoroughly ruined since the publication of that seminal book, however, that computer-generated landscapes would have to be used for a setting to film it in. No other place on earth, even in the Austrailian Outback could even compare, and sad to say all the Earth First!ers do nowadays is sit around and focus on their belly buttons.

          • Pat Kittle   October 20, 2018 at 3:13 pm

            Not that most Ed Abbey fans have the courage, common sense, or decency to notice, but…

            Ed understood that human overpopulation was the most basic ecological threat.

            And he also understood that includes massively unsustainable immigration levels.

            Not that anyone has the courage, common sense, or decency to notice.

          • Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 6:15 pm

            Congratulations, Madame. You are to be congratulated because by making that comment, you have endeared yourself to my way of thinking…Abbey said of the emigrants coming over our southern borders that we should issue them guns and ammo, that they may go home and fix their own countries; he said plowshares had done far more damage than swords, and with these sentiments I whole-heartedly agreed.

            But let’s be honest, here. Courage, decency and common sense are nay any more in want on the left than on the right, and those — dare we call ’em virtues? — of which I see a great dearth of ’em on the right, too — overlooking the usual bluster of overweight, molly-coddled loggers and their ilk, I daresay any revolution that ever comes to this country will be pretty much a literal pissing contest, by a bunch of sad-sack old dogs with limp, dribbling peckers and enlarged prostrate glands.

          • james marmon   October 20, 2018 at 7:40 pm

            And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4).

            God Bless Donald J. Trump

            James Marmon
            The Prophet

          • Harvey Reading   October 20, 2018 at 9:23 pm

            Swords into plowshares, James? Trump? He’s doing nothing but continuing the brutal policies of his predecessors, including his most pathetic immediate predecessor. I know you’re not stupid, so I must conclude that you are easily deluded, not a great trait for a healer of the mind; then again, that may explain a lot about you …

            When I think about Trump, I am reminded how all human civilizations ultimately crumble, only to be replaced by more of the same, driven by greed (kaputalism as we call it). The “wise” ones say we should learn history to avoid the mistakes of the past — what a bad joke that is! The people of all those failed civilizations of the past did know history, but they failed anyway. The best thing for the universe as a whole that could happen to humankind would be if an advanced civilization from another planet or galaxy euthanized every last one of us ignorant, not-so-bright monkeys. It would be nice if the method they chose was quick and painless … and with no warning.

          • Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 10:18 pm

            Plutarch: “Hail Cesar!”

            Cesar: “What ho, Sir?”

            Plutarch: “Tell us, Great Cesar, what’s the best way to die?”

            Cesar: “Why, unexpectedly, of course!”

          • Kona   November 6, 2018 at 4:13 pm

            No one is stopping you from euthanizing yourself.

          • Pat Kittle   November 6, 2018 at 8:51 pm

            I am.

            Bruce, don’t do it!

          • Kona   November 6, 2018 at 4:25 pm

            ….”I daresay any revolution that ever comes to this country will be pretty much a literal pissing contest, by a bunch of sad-sack old dogs with limp, dribbling peckers and enlarged prostrate glands.”
            Do you have ANY idea of how absolutely clueless you are? Just because that’s how you see yourself in a potential revolution doesn’t mean there are no REAL men ready to act.

        • james marmon   October 20, 2018 at 11:56 am

          There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.

          -Edward Abbey

          • Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 1:24 pm

            You don’t get it, do you? You think that’s a demonstration of Abbey’s ignorance, don’t you? What he’s expressing is amazement that anybody would prefer to have every goddamned inch of the countryside paved over in strip malls. And the “scenic” Frank Church Memorial Highway, from Torrey to Boulder over the Hog’s Back, and out the Burr Trail through Long Canyon and The Gulch, are just some of the more glaring examples of “the Californication” of some of the most wonderful horse country in the world, now nothing more than a two-week drive-thru for California lawyers like Al Kubanis and Susan Jordan (she died in her airplane in Boulder), and some other’s I could name.

            But before the Glen Canyon Dam was built and all those areas paved over and infested with nests of rich Californians it was something really worth risking your life and or freedom to preserve, just the way God made it, rather than a Knott’s Berry Farm-type park for the lazy asses who wanted to cruise thru on they silly-assed mooter-scooters, James.

          • Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 1:36 pm

            I am frequently invited to go visit the region again with my lawyer friends. But they don’t understand– and they’re much brighter than you, James — but that to me, would be like seeing my old high-school sweetheart all bloated on Big Macs, painted like a whore and lying in her coffin.

          • Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 2:12 pm

            Yes, James, I anticipate you composing a love-it-or-leave-it post for me, suggesting I go back to the Rockies, but sad to say all the way from the Montana High Line to the Arizona Strip, it’s now chock-full, it’s all filled up with Californians – not real Californians, not the red and brown ones, but white ones, like you, James. And everywhere our Californian goes, as we know, he takes his curb and gutter with him; his strip mall mentality, Burger Kings and Pizza Huts, his seedy little bungalows with the miniature split-rail fence and Shasta daisies, all the silly accoutrements of his stamp and breed, and all else is driven out, or knocked down and paved over before and after him.

            And he, our Californian, he commits these atrocities in the name of “getting out of the rat-race,” believe it or not!

          • Pat Kittle   October 20, 2018 at 3:20 pm


            Your anti-White racism is duly noted.

            At least Whites have long since stopped over-breeding, which is the single most important thing humans can do.

            When’s the last time you saw Whites get any credit for that?

            Now we’re being told we need to import hordes of over-breeding aliens to replace us. Why?? To keep US population from getting getting smaller!


          • Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 4:45 pm

            Yes, my dear Ms. Kittle, I most sympathetically concur; and, yes, I do certainly and distinctly feel the chill of a racist breeze kicking up, and it makes me want to turn up my collar, and shrug down into my coat with a shudder, pull the brim of my hat down and hit the grit, as they we used to tell ’em all, take the high lonesome to nowhere, for aught we care, but get the hell up on outta town …or else.

            I guess now we know, a little at least, how it feels, eh?

            Unfortunately, I cannot wholly say I’ve ended my line, as I have so many granddkids and great-grandkids, some I probably don’t even know about, but yes, as to the rest, let’s take pride where e’er we find it.

          • Pat Kittle   October 20, 2018 at 6:07 pm

            My dear Ms. McEwen:

            Your lame levity leavens not your SJW soul.

          • Harvey Reading   October 20, 2018 at 8:46 pm

            Bruce, I know it’s fun to badmouth California, but consider this:

            1) In 1996 when I traveled through CO, WY, and south MT, from Billings to the ID panhandle, I saw the following: Sam’s Club (and Walmart) in Cheyenne; Costco in Billings; strip malls in the major cities and moderate-sized towns. Didn’t stop in Casper, but they may have had a Sam’s Club by then, too. Same for Missoula. That was a few years before I saw a Sam’s Club in Sacramento, though Sac did have a Price Club as far back as the early 80s, before Price, HQ in San Diego, merged with Costco.

            2) By no later than 1997 (year I first saw the town), Riverton, WY had a Walmart. The Sac area didn’t have one until a couple or three years earlier, and the one in Riverton did not look new (it was enlarged to a “super” Walmart by 2002). The first Walmart I ever saw in CA was in Red Bluff, in 1990 or 1991. I had no idea what it was until I walked up to a greeter and asked if I had to buy a membership before entering. She told me no memership was required and to go on in and take look. Sac didn’t get them until two or three years later (the Wally World policy had been until then was to target towns of around 30,000 population).

            Don’t sell flyover country short. Its people are easily as stupid and greedy as those of the most beloved state of my birth. They need no help from folks moving in from CA to trash their environment. But, ya know what? They like their Walmarts and Sam’s Clubs and their strip malls … that they built with no help at all from CA immigrants.

          • Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 9:41 pm

            Too true, my good man, all too true.

            And at the age 14 when my Aunt and Uncle took me out to California, from my sharecropper farmstead, my papa having died of his WWII war wounds, in the year 1966, and I fell in love w/ the place, as well as a rich Californian girl.

            Let me bore you w/ some of the particulars, my good man.

            Having had experience w/ horses, I got work as a groom at stables for race horses in Del Mar, show horses in La Costa, and pleasure horses in Rancho Santa Fe.

            In 1967, a certain naval officer moved to Del Mar (Jim Morrison’s daddy) and I saw the Doors at Bing Crosby Hall, fell in love w/ a maiden from Lake Elsinore, and felt in my heart I could be a Knight… but it was all a dream, there was a class structure in place, and stable boys didn’t qualify for more than a leg-up, allez-oop, into the saddle of her Arabian stallion, Le Beau, for my love-interest, and after a post round the arena, my little garden of nighting gales, she would rein up, swing her leg over the saddle and drop kerplunk, forthwith, all bubbling breasts and bad breath, slap into my waiting arms, but before I could whisper a proposal, she’d toss me the reins and saunter off to meet a proper suitor…

  3. Michael Koepf   October 18, 2018 at 8:10 am

    God bless Jerry and Terry Philbrick.

  4. Russ Rasmussen   October 19, 2018 at 5:23 am

    The man knows quality apparel

  5. George Dorner   October 19, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    So there really is a moderate Jerry Philbrick? So how come he grows fangs when he takes up the pen?

  6. Kathy Gagnon   October 19, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    It had been a tradition at the local Comptche School for the children to put the flag up in morning. It is now put up by the staff because Jerry Philbrick barged into the school (possibley with a concealed weapon) on numerous occasions. He aggressively threatened the teacher with his loud yelling about the flag. You portray him as a level headed guy, but do something that doesn’t agree with and see how he reacts. You paint a rosy picture of a very unbalanced person.

    • David King   October 20, 2018 at 7:47 am

      We have given up on a quality education for our children. And now it has become too much to ask to raise the flag. I see little to no accountability with the students and in this case it looks like it starts with the teachers. Accountability should be taught by teachers. Instead we chose to hire prison guards to teach accountability. Has anyone else noticed the seesaw effect in regards to our education system and law enforcement? As the schools weaken law enforcement grows. The schools no longer carry any weight in our society that’s why their feet are dangling.

      • George Hollister   October 20, 2018 at 9:24 am

        David, it starts with parents, not teachers. Values, or lack of same, are taught at home. The quality of parenting is what defines who is disadvantaged, and who is advantaged. It’s not teachers, and it has nothing to do with how much money a parent has, or how much money the school has, either. That’s a handy excuse. Accountability is taught at home, or it’s likely not taught at all.

  7. Pat Kittle   October 20, 2018 at 10:10 am

    Let us not dwell on what divides us.

    Let’s celebrate what unites us — Trump & Hillary both obsequiously support fighting illegal wars for the Terrorist Theocracy of Eretz Ysrael!!

    “Whose Wars?
    Israel continues to wag the dog for Middle Eastern wars”:
    — [ ]
    (Philip Giraldi; April 17, 2018)

  8. Bruce McEwen   October 20, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    BTW: Ms. Davin, I apologize for picking a quarrel with James on your page, but he provoked me with his defamation of Ed. Abbey — I’ve already lost one newspaper job over Ed Abbey, back when I put his obit on the front page of a So. Utah daily. But I’d risk my job again to preserve his good name.

    As for the Philbrick interview, the feature titled “Deplorable” on Mendocino County Today pretty much says it all.


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