PHILIP WILLIAM WILSON
1953 - 1977
Once in a while a person comes into our lives who seems to lift and brighten and bring happiness to everyone who knows him; that was the case with our Phil.
Philip William Wilson was born in Salmon, Idaho, June 1, 1953. He was the second son and child of Jed and Donna Lee Wilson, and the younger brother of Robert Jed Wilson. His paternal grandparents were William and Adele Wilson, and his maternal grandparents Leona Lee and Stuart Lee. At the time of his birth, he also had several great-grandparents: Earl and Amy Kingsbury, William and Ethel Shanafelt, and Stuart Lee, Sr.
The Wilson family lived in Drummond, Montana in 1953, and there Phil spent the first five years of his life.
In 1958 Phil's sister Teri Lynn was born, and later that year Wilsons moved to Salmon where they bought the 90 acre ranch where they live today (1977).
A year later, when Phil was six, the family moved back to Drummond, where they lived until 1967. Phil went to his first eight grades at Drummond Grade School. He was a good student. From the time he was just little, he was always willing to take on any job or assignment that was extra hard or that someone thought could not be done. That seemed to be his way throughout his life. Phil knew there was nothing he could not doÂ—if he made up his mind to do it.
When Phil was eight years old his dad baptized him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Flint Creek, near the family ranch in Drummond. His grandad, William Wilson, confirmed him a member of the Church.
Phil's grandparents and parents operated a big ranch in Drummond. During the summer Phil was nine they were shorthanded during haying season and needed someone to run the buckrake. Phil convinced his grandad that he could do the job, and so he got it. He did a real good job out in the hayfields. Grandad felt sorry to see such a little boy having to drive that tractor and buckrake around, so he hired a man to do the job. The man didn't last two days before he was let go because he couldn't do near the job that 9 year-old Phil could. Buckraking became his job in the hayfields while he lived in Drummond.
Phil was also very involved in the Granite County 4-H program. One year he had a blue roan steer called "Frosty." Phil wrote:
"At the Deerlodge Fair I had my steer and Charles Parke's two Angus heifers. Just before my steer was judged he bloated and I only got a white ribbon. I talked to some men who were in the ring and they said he would have been on the top if he hadn't bloated."
In 1961, Sandy, Phil's youngest sister was born. In 1964, David, his little brother was born.
When David was a baby he shared a room with Phil. David didn't like to say in his crib at night, and Phil didn't like to hear David cry, so he taught his little brother how to pull down the side of the crib, climb out, and crawl to his parents' room.
Phil liked competition. He really enjoyed sports. He played on the 7th and 8th grad basketball teams in Drummond. He wasn't afraid to get hurt and enjoyed getting in on any action.
Philip and his brother, Bob, and his cousins William, Charles, and Ricky Parke used to have some great dirt clod and water fights. There was never a dull moment when Phil was around. One time Phil and William got in an apple fight. William hit Phil, then Phil wound up to throw an apple at William, who was just running indoors, and, instead of hitting William, Phil hit a visiting neighbor lady in the ear. The blow knocked her flat.
Phil received a .22 pistol from his parents for 8th grade graduation. One afternoon he was sitting in the living room watching "Beverly Hillbillies" and cleaning his pistol. He was pretty involved in the program, evidently, so he didn't notice that the gun was still loaded. Phil aimed at Miss Jane Hathaway, pulled the trigger, and shot a big hole in the television. Dad rushed into the living room and Phil just unloaded his gun and handed it to Dad. He later bought a tube for the television.
In 1967, the Wilson family moved back to Salmon. Phil started high school in Salmon. In high school he was popular with his teachers and classmates. Phil played football and wrestled. He was an especially good football player. He put everything he had into the game. Our family used to be so proud to watch him play.
We always appreciated having all Phil's friends out at the house. It seemed like they were always there to help us when we were bucking bales or feeding or milking the cows.
During his high school years Phil worked at the Salmon Valley Packing Co., Fred's American, Larry's Mobile, and Jim's Conoco.
Phil always loved animals, especially dogs. One morning Phil's mom went to his cabin bedroom to wake him for school. She nearly fainted when she met a big St. Bernard staring at her. The dog had been at the station when Phil was closing up, and he hated to leave him out in the cold, so he brought him home with him.
In the last year or so Phil has even hated to go hunting. He especially did not care to shoot rabbits or birds without cause.
At one time during his high school years Phil was not living at home. Mom had to have an operation, and since she did the milking and Dad worked up town and did the other chores, Dad and I were going to try to do the milking and run the household. We didn't have to worry about it long, though, because as soon as Philip heard that Mom was in the hospital, he was right out a the place every morning before school and every evening after school to do the milking and help in any way he could. No person could have been more loyal to his family or friends than Phil Wilson.
One time when Phil was in Billings, Montana, his sister Sandy was wounded by an accidental gun shot. Just moments after it happened and she was taken to the hospital by Mom and Dad, Phil called from Billings because he had a feeling that something was wrong at home. When I told him that Sandy had been hurt, he began to cry and said he would come home. And he did.
I know that Phil's friends can attest to the fact that when someone needed help, he was the first there to help, and that as big and strong as Phil was, he was so gentle and kind.
Phil graduated from Salmon High School with the class of 1971. A couple weeks later, on his 18th birthday, he went into the United States Marine Corps. Phi saw this as another challenge which he would prove he could meet with perfection.
In Basic Training, at Camp Pendleton, California, Phil was honorman of his platoon, series honorman of four platoon, and won the Blues Award.
Phil served 22 months overseas, most of which were spent in Viet Nam, the other in Okinawa. Before his 20th birthday he made the rank of sergeant, which is quite an honor in itself.
In Viet Nam Phil was an assaultman and saw much of the ugliness and sorrows of war. When he returned he didn't talk much about what he had been through, and when he did it was hard for him to speak.
Here are some comments on his Marine records, written by a commanding officer:
"Wilson is one of the most outstanding Marines in 2nd Bn, 4th Mar. His ability and skill has earned him two meritorious promotions, one to Cpl. and one to Sgt. Wilson will not stay in. He has too many plans and he said the service is not one of them. The Marine Corps will lose a good Marine and a good NCO."
Philip was married to Pam Cherry December 1, 1973, in Downy, California. They were divorced a year later.
Phil received an honorable discharge from the USMC May 31, 1974. Shortly before his release I received a letter from him, part of which said:
"Ya know Teri, when I was overseas, it was an experience you just can't have without sacrifice, yet rewards, too. One of the things I guess I really realized when I came home was how lucky I really was, but also that I had taken a step forward and couldn't step back not matter how much I wanted to. I don't know that you'll get my meaning, but it's like you have missed something and realize that time has passed and know that you aren't the same and won't be able to experience things as you had before, because it is gone and you have not way to get it back. It's a scary feeling....
"I guess you probably remember how much of a horse's hind-end I was to Mom and Dad. Teri, I can honestly say that I have never met a better man than Dad, nor a better woman than Mom. You can see it in both their faces, in the way they talk, and in the way they live.
"Ya know Teri, every time things have gotten rough for me these past three years, I've only had to think of Mom and Dad and in inspired me to put forth everything I had, just so they would be proud of me. A couple months ago I went to see the commanding general of the First Marine Division. He's the man. When he tells someone to jump, they jump and don't come down until he says. Anyway, he had looked at my service record and at me and the first thing he said was, Â‘Young man, you have some fine parents. You are a credit to God, country, and the United States Marine Corps, which directly reflects upon your parents.' Teri, I can't tell you how good that made me feel. It was like in some small way I had made up for the things I had done to hurt Mom and Dad. Teri, everything I've ever done or accomplished that was worthwhile I owe to Mom and Dad.
"I want you to know that I'm proud of you, and the wonderful girl you are. I'll be seeing you in 24 days, not much time left and I'm glad. Love, Phil."
Philip worked at the BLM in Salmon for a few months after he got out of the service. In January of 1975 he began school at Boise State University. He also worked fore the Ada County Sheriff's Department, to help get himself through school. He worked withe Sheriff's department about a year.
In 1976, he began taking welding classes at Boise State Vo-Tech. Again, Phil found a challenge and began to make things with metal that his instructors said could not be done.
Phil's favorite things were Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Phil got his first bike in 1973, and this last one he built himself. He spent the most part of this last year welding, designing, and putting it together. He built everything but the motor, and was very proud of it.
In the summer of 1976 Phil and Gary Scott went into partnership and bought some acreage near North Fork. They planned to build a welding and machine shop.
Last winter Phil went back to Boise and continued studying at the Vo-Tech. He was taking machinist classes.
Our family has gotten to know many of his friends, his "brothers," from Boise. We've really appreciated the kindness and friendship they've shown us and Phil. When our family was putting up hay this summer and last, Phil and some of his friends came out to buck bales and help us out. They would never let us pay them.
Phil was a big tease. Sandy, David and I will miss him telling us how ugly we are, wrestling with us, and those quiet times when we just talked.
This summer Phil finished his bike. While he worked on it out at our place we saw a lot of him and enjoyed having him around.
He never walked into the house or the store that he didn't give our mother a big hug, tell her how beautiful she was, or how proud he was of her, and how very much he loved her. There's been a special closeness between Mom and Phil since he was a little boy.
Phil and Dad enjoyed many of the same things. Often they traded guns and cameras. I can remember many times when they would just sit in the living room and talk. Phil was appreciative of his parents.
Jeri Angell has been a real special person to Phil for some time now, and we think of her as one of the family.
During the past few years Phil and his brother Bob began to develop a very strong bond and closeness. Together they did a lot of talking and working together on bikes and welding projects.
Our whole family, including grandparents, were home together for Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a closeness and a spirit of love that was really something special. Our last associations with Phil here on earth were happy. Just being around him made us feel good.
On December 11, 1977, early in the morning, Phil died as the result of a collision on his bike with a car, in Caldwell, Idaho. His friends were with him and did all they could to help him; now they help us.
It was Phil's brother Bob who went to Boise to bring Phil home for the last time. It was hard on Bob, but he wanted no one else to do it. He also wanted one last chance to be with Phil.
Phil has had close calls with death and many accidents throughout his life. We know he's ready for more challenges now.
We feel assured that Phil, the loving, special personality that made him Phil, still lives in spirit form. We know he is with is today. How thankful our family is for the 24 Â½ years we've had Phil with us. How thankful we are to have known him and his jokes, him and his seriousness. How thankful we are for the gospel of Jesus Christ which lets us know that he lives still, that we will be with him again, that this life is only a preparation for another.
December 15, 1977
Note: Phil was buried in the Salmon Cemetery, Salmon, Lemhi Co., Idaho, on December 15, 1977.