Passing of Philip Brown

Philip C. Brown of Springville CA passed away peacefully on March 14,2019 at the age of 90. He was born on August 24,1928 in Milfay Oklahoma to Philip W. and Hazel T. Brown. Phil’s father passed away two months prior to his birth and his mother remarried to Leander J. Swartzlander. Phil’s family farmed and in 1942 they came to Los Angeles California and then relocating to the Cutler area. Phil did farm work and drove trucks until he landed a job at Lodgepole in Sequoia National Park and continued working there until he was drafted into the Army in 1951. Phil served with the 40th Infantry Division, 223rd Infantry Rgt in Korea as a Rifleman and Truck Driver. After receiving an Honorable discharge in October 1953 he went to work for the California Division of Forestry (CDF) in the Tulare Unit. It was at this same time he met Ophelia Elizabeth Arnold who quickly became the love of his life, the two were married and enjoyed an everlasting love until her passing in 2014. Phil continued working for CDF relocating his young family to Fort Bragg in 1957 and later Howard Forest in Willits California in 1959 as a Forest Fire Truck Driver and Firefighter Foreman. In 1961 he transferred to the CDF air program as an air attack Captain out of Ukiah Air Base returning to Howard Forest in 1963. In 1965 he promoted to Forestry Project Foreman at Mountain Home Camp near Springville where he would finish his career on December 2, 1985. It was at Mountain Home where he earned his reputation as an outstanding fireman and a leader, he was highly respected in the firefighting world and a mentor to many young firefighters and left a legacy that continues today. In 1988 Phil began another career as a Bus Driver for Special Operations hauling firefighters to fires all over the country. Together with his “sidekick” the late Ben Charley they traveled all over the country hauling fire crews to many different fires. As if this wasn’t enough Phil and Ophelia raised five boys and maintained a home that was always full of love. This love extended beyond the family, you were always welcome and you never left hungry. Phil believed in honesty and hard work and instilled these traits in his sons and many of their friends. Phil was an outstanding cook, a trade he learned from Ophelia and many Springville residents will attest to.


Phil had many affectionate nicknames he was known as,”Big Phil”, Pappy, Papa, Senior, or Great Papa. He was a proud member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and received his 65 year pin in December 2018. Every year faithfully, Phil would drive the old Army jeep in both the Springville Rodeo and Porterville Veterans Day parades flashing his infectious grin. He instituted the “Jackass Sheriff’ for Springville’s Jackass Mail Run. He could always be counted on to put the Flags up on Memorial Day, Flag Day, and any other day the flag needed to be flown. When Phil wasn’t busy volunteering in the community he loved so much, he could be found at the sawmill creating woodwork pieces as a hobby or spending time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. Phil was an icon of the Springville community, known by most. He had a sense of humor like no other and a way of making everyone laugh. He had a zest for life and lived it to its fullest, he touched the hearts and lives of people until the day he left in peace. Phil will be greatly missed yet, his spirit will live on with everyone he knew. He is survived by his sisters Wanda Arnold of Dinuba and Linda Puig of Hanford. Brothers Jack Swartzlander of Hanford and Paul Swartzlander of Oregon. His sons Philip (Terren) Brown of Porterville, James (Nannette) Brown, Dennis (Deanna) Brown, Gary Brown of Springville and Mark Brown of Tehachapi. 12 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. A Celebration of life will be held Saturday April 6, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at the Springville Veterans Memorial Building in Springville CA. Cards are welcome, in lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Springville Veterans Post 9499, Springville Rodeo Association or a .