Longtime Kendrick residents described Jerry Lee Brown as “quiet” and “gentle,” but Brown’s effect on the town since 1935 was more bold than those adjectives.
The former mayor and city councilor died July 25 in Lewiston at age 84. A celebration of life is scheduled for 2 p.m. today at the Kendrick United Methodist Church at 810 E. Main St., Kendrick.
“He was a very gentle spirit, and he always wanted the best for the community and found ways to do that,” said Sharon Harris, Kendrick city clerk for about six years during the 1980s. “He was a quiet, kind of shy guy, but once you knew him, he was outgoing.”
Harris said he was a good friend and always a good source of knowledge.
“I loved talking to him,” she said. “I loved the things that he had to share.”
Brown served as mayor for several terms, most notably during the city’s centennial celebration in 1990, and as a city councilor for several years.
Darrel Brocke, who served on the council with Brown, said one of Brown’s largest contributions to the town was a 1996 public infrastructure project in which streets were repaved, sidewalks were repaired and water and sewer lines were replaced.
“That was the best thing we ever did for Kendrick,” Brocke said.
Brocke also served with Brown as a Boy Scouts of America leader decades ago.
“I think he just wanted to help kids,” he said, noting Brown did not have children and never married.
Marilyn Eichner said she and her family knew Brown well, and he was her neighbor in downtown Kendrick for more than 30 years. Eichner’s family ran the Potlatch Telephone Company, where she said Brown worked before he became the manager of the Troy Telephone Company. Eichner’s father and uncle owned the Kendrick theater, where Brown operated the projectors in the 1950s.
“He was just a quiet guy, kind of kept to himself,” Eichner said.
In his later years, Kendrick residents knew they could likely find Brown sitting in the same chair at local diner Archie’s Place, chatting up owner Archie Johnson and customers for hours while enjoying a meal.
“Sometimes we would serve him three meals a day,” Johnson said, noting Brown had quite the sweet tooth.
“He loved his shakes,” she said.
When children came in selling tickets, candy or other sugary treats, Brown would be the first to buy.
“He’s going to be greatly missed,” Johnson said. “He would probably do anything for anybody. All they had to do was ask. He was just a gentle soul, very personable.”
Everyone in town knew Brown and got along with him, she said.
“We had one customer tell us that he was the best mayor that they’ve ever had.”
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.