“Tieton From Hatton Road Looking Northeast”

Jerry Forbes

Many of us never met Carl and Pearl Forbes but after knowing Jerry Dale Forbes, their son, wished we could have. Based on the character exhibited by Jerry they must have been terrific people. Jerry always was one to praise his mother and father and the manner in the way he was raised. Jerry is shown here to the left in the wilderness where he was the most at home.

Carl was born in 1906 in Miami, Florida and came with his parents to Stella Missouri where Pearl’s family lived. Pearl was born in Missouri in March of 1915. It was in Stella that they married in the early 1930s. Stella would forever have an attraction for the Forbes family even after they settled in Washington State. Stella is a well-known suburb of Joplin, Missouri. The first known settlers of this area arrived in the early 1820s. As Jerry would say the Union Cemetery in Stella is filled with his family members. The area remained an attraction to him even as he lived out his life in the West.

In addition to Jerry, Carl and Pearl had three other sons; Marshall, Carl (known as Rex so as to not be confused with his father) and Alvis. Marshall was the first born and died at the age of five and is presumed buried in Stella. Jerry was the second oldest but out lived all of his brothers. Carl, known by the name Rex, moved back to Stella in the 1990s and is buried there. He was a long-haul trucker early on and he in fact purchased his own truck and continued trucking after moving to Stella to live. He is believed to have had a career in farming in Stella and also worked for the county road department. Alvis went on to school following his days at Highland to become an orthopedic surgeon living in Jackson, Wyoming.

Jerry at six feet two inches was not only tall he was strong and muscular well over two hundred pounds and as agile as a cat. Although he never participated in organized sports in school, he may well have been the most athletic of all in his high school graduating class. Hikes of more than ten miles in one outing were not uncommon for him and you would often find him walking between Tieton and Cowiche where he mostly lived growing up. In his adult life he and Fay often went for long hikes and hunting trips.

Of all the traits friends found in the man the ones that stood clearly for all to see was his honesty and kindness. I knew him for more than a half century and never heard him say a derogatory word about another human being and if he overheard same, he would quickly interject a positive comment. I don’t think I ever heard him tell an off colored joke or swear though I am sure on occasion he likely did both.

Carl and Pearl owned and operated a 160 acres farm near Stella, but the yield was not enough and Carl on occasion would find himself in places like Detroit, Michigan attempting to earn more money to feed his family. In the early 1940s Carl heard of ample work in Idaho and so they packed up and move there in 1944. Within a couple of years, in 1946, they had had enough of Idaho and decided to head back home to Missouri via California.

Somewhere outside of Pendleton, Oregon they pulled off the road to sleep the night in their car. Another family headed for Tieton; Washington was at the location sleeping the same night. The next morning a discussion ensued about the prospects for work in Tieton, and Carl chose to go see if he could get a job. Remember Tieton was thriving having become an organized city in 1943. In Tieton Carl got a job of foreman on a 40-acer parcel just north of Tieton and decided to stay ultimately moving to Cowiche near the Valley Evaporator where Pearl worked for many years and where Jerry would work off and on following high school.

Jerry may have started the first grade somewhere in Idaho but we do know he attended the first grade when the family arrived in Tieton. The school, Tieton Elementary School, shown below was where Jerry attended first, second and third grades. Tieton Elementary School was the building to the far left. When Jerry first started school in Tieton in 1946 the building to the far right was Tieton High School and the light-colored building between was the gymnasium. The buildings in the photo no longer exist having been raised in 1956 for new structures.

In 1944-1948 there was a consolidation of school districts and Jerry moved to the Cowiche Elementary School pictured below for the fourth, fifth and part of the sixth grades. That structure still stands in 2024 although it is no longer used as a school and has changed ownership several times. If you want to know if Jerry slid down the fire escape shown the answer is yes, many times.

We find him in the fifth-grade class photo of 1949 at Cowiche Elementary School; he is forth from the left in the back row in the photo below. Remembered is the day a peddler of musical instruments was invited to the school. Jerry loved music and was standing in line to be tested when a friend came out of the test area with note to his parents. Jerry insisted on reading the note which read, “Dear Parent, don’t waste your money on a musical instrument for this child, he is tone death!” It took Jerry a few minutes to stop laughing and contain himself.

The Forbes family left Cowiche in November 1950 and returned to Stella and did not return to the Cowiche area until 1955. We find him in the 1956 Highland High School year book. He may have returned in 1954 but more likely 1955. In any regard he began working the orchards and fields in the area and on occasion he would work at the Valley Evaporator in Cowiche along with Pearl.

At Highland High School, pictured above, he never felt accepted he said. That often happens to students that come and go and develop breaks in their relationships. At Highland he was most interested in Dramatics and class plays in which he was involved.

All of those school years Jerry considered himself and his family poor even though Carl had a good job at Hanford and Pearl having a job at the Valley Evaporator most of the year. When asked if he ever went hungry, he answered, “No, but I can remember when all we had to eat was cornbread.” Jerry always related best with those low on the economic scale and after he went to work for the Yakima Policy Department would often talk about the inequities of the poor. He was quick to tell a person that equality in society was a myth having witnessed the treatment of various classes of individuals under the law.

When Jerry graduated from high school in May of 1957, he already had a job starting the Monday following graduation working for the United States Forest Service out of Skykomish, WA. He went to work mostly as an outfitter taking supplies and horses to personnel working in very remote mountain locations. Following that work he worked at the North Bend Washington Ranger Station and as he said, “Absolutely loved it.”

However, Jerry wasn’t about working for others all of his life. A cousin came to visit from Stella who encouraged him to find a job that had good retirement so that he could enjoy life following employment. It was during the Vietnam War era and the Yakima Police Department was looking for recruits that would not get themselves trained and then leave for the war effort. Jerry had either tried to enlist or was drafted and rejected possibly for a hearing deficiency; he was not going into the military. He started his twenty-five-year career as a Yakima Police Officer May 9, 1963 and retired in 1988. The photo to the left is not clear, but still you can tell he presented an imposing figure as Officer Forbes.

Jerry and Fay got married late in the 1960s. Jerry had never been married for Fay it was here second marriage and she brought two children to the union. The children Mitchell and Sonja accepted Jerry as “dad” and he loved them dearly. He would often speak of them. Mitchell lives in Hoquiam, Washington where he is employed at a hospital. Sonja went on to college and got a degree in accounting and worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in various location prior to retirement and now lives in Vienna, Virginia.

During those years on the police force he mostly patrolled the streets, transported incarcerated people and served official papers for the department. When asked if he ever discharged his weapon or had the same done against him, he would tell some of the following stories.

Once an alert came of an escapee from Walla Walla State Prison and Jerry said it turned out the guy was in front of him and his driving partner in a pickup truck. He describes a chase at very high speeds up Ellensburg Canyon Highway with him in the front passenger seat with shot gun loaded and cocked and driving right alongside the fleeing vehicle with the gun pointed right at the escapee.

When asked if he was capable of shooting another person his response was, “If it was justified, yes I could!” There may have been a time it was justified for there was one occasion where he had the rear window shot out of the patrol car he was driving. In fact, he never discharged his weapon in the twenty-five years with the purpose of injuring or killing another person.

Yakima was termed by some as the largest little city in America in the mid-twentieth century. One Yakima detective once stating, “You can find any criminal activity in Yakima as can be found in any city in America.” Before the advent of the cell phone, prostitution on Front Street and North Yakima Avenue for example was a major activity. Jerry use to laugh heartily when telling stories of the ladies of the night fleeing when they saw him coming. He may have been remembering those occassions when the photo below was taken.

Jerry was often involved with serving of official papers and of course routine traffic stops. Many involved those he was friends with or people he had attended school with. He was always discreet in discussions involving such people.

There were many stories that Jerry enjoyed telling but none more so than the day he stopped a grey-haired old man. “Once I stopped an old beat up green station wagon for making a U-turn. The driver was an older man wearing faded patched blue jeans, old worn work shoes and a plaid wool shirt. He had silver gray-hair that was unruly in the slight breeze and would blow down in his face. Continually, he would brush the hair back out of his eyes.” Jerry asked him for his driver’s license and proof of insurance, the name on the paperwork was William O. Douglas. Jerry asked him if he was the author of a book he read while in High School titled, “Of Men and Mountains”. The answer he got was, “Yes”. Jerry had just stopped to arrest the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, a Davis High School graduate and a resident of what once was Cowiche School District. Jerry proceeded to give the driver a warning ticket. One wonders if Jerry had wished to ask Justice Douglas for a copy of his book, “A Wilderness Bill of Rights” for the two had very common interests.

When Jerry retired, he said he became even more busy. He would travel back and forth to Stella living part of the year there and coming back to hunt and fish in Washington State.
It would not be an understatement to say that Jerry spent every moment he could hunting and fishing. He enjoyed telling stories of his encounters with others like the first time he met Art Humphrey. Art was a well-known cowboy in the area having spent his adult life with his wife Jackie in the hills west of Cowiche and Tieton herding cattle; except for his years of youth and those years of service during the Second World War in which he was heavily decorated.

Jerry said one day he was hunting about ten miles west of Cowiche and decided to sit down on a log and rest. While sitting there he saw a man on a horse some distance away across a ravine looking straight at him. Not long thereafter the man slowly rode his horse down through the ravine and up to within fifteen feet of Jerry and said to him, “Who are you” to which Jerry replied, “Jerry Forbes, who are you?” Art responded, “I am Art Humphrey and I am looking for a big Black Angus bull; you haven’t seen him, have you?” Jerry says, “I believe I have; he is back north there a couple draws back. He has himself trapped in a ticket and can’t find his way out after trampling the brush and the small trees. He is madder than the blazes foaming at the mouth. I just heard all the noise and went to see but I didn’t want any part of it.” Jerry said with that pronouncement Art said, “Good” and swung one leg up in the saddle and commenced to roll a cigarette. Jerry said you would have thought you were looking at the Marlboro Man famous in television advertisements in the mid-1900s.

Over the period of 1997 to 2024 Jerry participated in many reunions of his high school classmates and friends. He is shown below at a “Cornbread and Stew Dinner” in the kitchen of the auditorium of his fifth-grade school giving directions to the cook. The auditorium was at the upper end of the fire escape (shown in a previous photo). The others in the photo are from left to right Mary Lou (DeRiese) Schut, Wanda (Buchanan) Perdue and the cook Mary Perdue. Jerry was right at home in the kitchen; when asked once when Fay was gone and he was batching if he was a good cock. His answer was “I used to be.”

Jerry attended many COWICHE CALLS reunions from floating the Columbia River near White Bluffs to many trips in the mountains. In the photo immediately below, he is giving directions high atop Mount Clemens. The man knew the land; it was easy to visualize him as a trapper in those mountains back in the beaver trapping days of the 1830s and 1840s. You never wanted to go into the wilderness without him; his knowledge of the area was boundless.

Jerry had many friends throughout his life. Probably his best friend when he joined the Yakima Police Department was Gary Carter, himself a former Highland graduate. You would often see them together. Gary was a fellow officer on the Yakima Police Force and they often were seen together at work, but if not there then out fishing or hunting somewhere.

One would ride along with him in the back country and he would point out year-round springs, the location where he had shot a bear, or a lynx like the one pictured below. Guns were his hobby. He knew nearly every hunting weapon used and all the ammunition for them. He would hunt for anything with four legs, elk, deer, mountain goat, moose you name it. When asked if he had ever been out of the United States his answer was, “Yes, twice to hunt moose in Canada.”

Jerry’s special partner when going hunting was his former high school classmate Steve Vander Houwen. Steve and Jerry had not necessarily been close in school but following school they had developed a special bond. Steve loved the wilderness area west of Cowiche and Tieton once referring to it while chatting with his son as the wilderness and the mountains as being “my church”.

Jerry had a friend that leased a parcel of ground up by Cold Springs and at one time the friend or someone else had operated a portable sawmill on the parcel. At the time the sawmill was in operation a cabin had been constructed from logs for housing for the sawmill crew. When the logging operation was abandoned Jerry’s, friend allowed Jerry to use the cabin. Jerry used the cabin over a sixteen-year period and in doing so the cabin became known as the Forbes Cabin.

When you chatted with Jerry about his friend Steve his demeanor changed and he became unusually somber. Jerry and others including Steve were using the Forbes Cabin in the week of November 18, 1982 as a base camp on a hunting trip. Early on Steve had shot an elk but the animal was only wounded and managed to escape down a ravine. Steve searched for it but night fell and he decided to return to the cabin and resume the search the following day. When he got to the cabin, he excitedly calls his son to let him know.

The following morning bright and early Steve and Vernon Ford another close friend set out to flush out the animal and finish the hunt. When the others arrived back at the cabin later in the day, they found Steve missing and Vernon in a state of shock explaining he had accidentally killed Steve.

From here we will let Jerry tell the story. “Well it was a terrible situation there was absolutely no negligence on anybody’s part, it was just a situation where – did you really hear what happened. Well, in reading the tracks we backtracked and I can pretty well-read tracks. Vern told me they had looked, and looked and looked. Steve had tracked this elk until just before dark the night before and when he had quit it (the elk) had just got out of bed. So, they went back there the next morning. It had gone off into the brush around this hill. Apparently, they had kicked it out of its bed another 2 or 3 times. Finally, they saw it get up and go up the hill to a big brushy area. Steve had said (he meant Vern) right at the last, and the tracks indicated this, that they had stood around this bed. Steve had told Vern ‘Give me 10 minutes and I’ll go around this and up on the rocks above. In 10 minutes, you get on its trail again,’ Steve took off and made a circle. On the other end I could see where he had come down over the hill and got in behind some stuff where he could see fairly good, and it was really brushy in front of him, but he could see on the side hill in two different directions. When I found him that night his right-hand glove was off and his rifle was off safety. That indicates to me that he heard that elk and the elk track came up within 12 feet of where Steve was laying. Then it made a right-hand angle turn. The elk didn’t know Steve was there and was coming right to him. Just before it got to him Vern had come up on that flat and seen the elk going, and there was a little fir tree between Steve and the elk, right where the elk had turned. He was behind that fir tree and the elk couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see the elk, but the bullet got through that fir tree.”

When asked if Steve died instantly Jerry’s answer was, “Oh, yeah it was …. the bullet had opened up. It had either hit the elk enough or hit the limbs of that fir tree, because it completely opened up. It was about the size of a quarter when it went in, and it went in about six inches below his chin right in the middle of his sternum. He never had a chance.”

“It was terrible. After it happened there was a big snowstorm coming up and it was dark. The Deputy Sheriff had got in there at dark. I learned; they had told me about what area it was. That country there was no roads in there at the time and it was a couple miles back in, in country where the wind really blows. I figured that if it snowed, we would never find him. The Deputy Sheriff didn’t want to go in there, but I said, ‘Hey we’ve got to go in there and find the body or if it snows a foot tonight, we may never find it.’ I coerced him to go in there after dark. We went cross country and then went and found the body. I’ve always felt so sorry for; I mean we can’t do anything for Steve, but I’ve always felt so sorry for Vernon. I tell you it liked to kill him”

Jerry said following the death of Steve he never again went to the Forbes Cabin. The accident is seldom spoken of by friends and family to prevent the sadness that memories of the event brings.

Jerry listed as his best friends in high school as Melvin Taylor, John Brown, Ozzie Bedard, Daryl Sauve, and Pink Robbins. He paused for a moment and added the name Steve Vander Houwen but in fact he and Steve did not become close friends until well after high school. Melvin Taylor was a very close friend of Jerry’s in high school before he dropped out of school in 1956. All of his adult life Jerry would seek to find where Melvin lived but never succeeded.

Jerry may never have been to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville but he made it to Branson Missouri. He loved country and western music. He was not a stranger to the instruments of the country music world and one could often hear the strings of the guitar, fiddle, banjo and or mandolin being played by one or the other Forbes boys. He often described where he lived in Missouri by saying he lived, “An hour and a half west on the road to Branson.”

When asked Jerry said the most significant technical program during his lifetime was the United States Space Program. Jerry listed a number of things that were spinoffs from that effort including electronics, adhesives, heat resistant metals and communications.

When asked what were the most important things that had happened to him during his life, he listed the following:

My wife,
Being raised dirt poor,
Developing a work ethic early on,
Always having a job I loved and
Having a good retirement

One could tell with the speed of the answers he had thought about the question long before it was asked.

He was asked what in life made him the most happy? His answer was, “Well, other than my wife and family, my old faithful hunting companion of 28 years – my old horse ‘Blue!” It was ironic for when Art Humphrey was asked the same question he replied, “On my horse with my dog up in the mountains.” It is clear that those hills west of Cowiche and Tieton had an infatuation for those that yearned to roam free.

We seldom spoke of politics but when asked who in history would he most like to sit and visit with he named, Oliver North. North came into the public spotlight as a result of his participation in the Iran-Contra affair, a political scandal during the Reagan Administration, in which he claimed partial responsibility for the sale of weapons through intermediaries to Iran, with the profits being channeled to the Contras in Nicaragua. Jerry always thought North had, “…taken the heat for President Reagan and did it without showing any bitterness.” He said if he were to advise future high school students, he would tell them, “Be honest, work hard and be above board.” He also said the young should get the most education they could.

Jerry never served in the military but one of the things he was proud of was that his grandfather had served for the North in the American Civil War. While in Missouri he lived just fifteen miles from Pea Ridge National Military Park just across the Arkansas line. The battle had been a key victory for the North in the control of Missouri. He told the story of him or a friend finding a Civil War cavalry bit for horses on the grounds.

One of the stories he liked to tell was about his buddy Steve and him fishing a lake somewhere west up French Canyon where Jerry says there was at one time in the 1950s a stand of old growth pine trees measuring in excess of fifty inches at the base. Jerry said the lake was filled with 18 to 20-inch trout, but, “Only their grandchildren (smaller fish) would bite” a likely story for a man from Missouri.

A special characteristic of Jerry Forbes was his willingness to listen. When he was intent on hearing what was being said he would often fold his arms across his chest and cock his head to one side and listen intently as shown above in the photo. And more often than naught you would find him with a cup of coffee nearby.

For those of us who cherished his friendship and loved him he will never die for a man like him can never be forgotten. He indeed was one of a kind. When you are alone along Cowiche Creek or along the Tieton listen for the sounds of the streams, the wind, the birds, and the animals. Imagine those sounds as Jerry’s spirit tracking you through eternity.

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