Robert D. Philbrick Sr.

MILFORD -  Robert D. Philbrick Sr., a retired defense industry public affairs specialist who was prominent in community and political affairs, died on July 16, 2017 at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Jaffrey. He was 88.

Bob was a Korean War veteran, former New Hampshire State Racing Commissioner, a long-time Milford Town Moderator, and chaired state and local campaign committees for several presidential candidates.

Bob was married for 60 years to Vesta (Peters) Philbrick. Besides his wife, he is survived by his brother, Jim and his wife, Sally; and his six children: Celeste Philbrick Barr and her husband, Tim; Bob Philbrick Jr. and his wife, Lisa; Patrick Philbrick; Sarah Philbrick Sandhage; John Philbrick and his wife, Cathy, all of Milford; and Brendan Philbrick of Wilton. He also leaves 10 grandchildren: Brendan Philbrick Jr., Ryan Philbrick, Ivan Philbrick, Lillian Barr Poole, Corey Barr, Maia Barr, Ian Sandhage, Samuel Philbrick, Michael Philbrick and Anna Philbrick; and two great grandchildren, Kayden Philbrick and Keira Poole.

Born on Nov. 19, 1928 in New York City to John and Anna (Brooks) Philbrick, Bob was the eldest of three sons. His youngest brother, Jack, predeceased him.

Bob became a Milford resident when his family moved to New Hampshire in 1935 where Anna Philbrick enjoyed summers in Wolfeboro with New York relatives. Bob attended Milford schools and graduated with honors from Milford High School, Class of 1947. He was very proud to have been elected class president for all four years of high school.

Bob graduated from Fordham University in New York City with a Bachelor of Science degree in government in 1951. He founded and was first president of the Fordham Democratic Club. He was elected in 1950 as city chairman to the College Council of the New York State Democratic Committee.

After graduation, Bob’s ROTC unit was activated and he was deployed to Pusan, Korea in 1951 with the U.S. Army’s Transportation Corps. He was discharged as a first lieutenant in 1953. He returned to New York City where he served as special assistant to the City of New York Corporation Counsel Office and met and married his wife, Vesta, in 1957.

Bob became New England sales representative for Robert Rollins Blazer/Uniform Co. of New York and later served as its New England sales manager. He joined Raytheon Corp. in Bedford, Mass. in 1972 as manager of systems information. He was promoted to public affairs manager of Raytheon Missile Systems in 1974, a position he held until he retired in 1992.

A gifted public speaker, Bob was Milford Town Moderator from 1974-1994 and also served as Milford School Moderator during 12 of those years. He chose not to run for re-election in 1994 so he could enjoy his winter home in Venice, Fla.

Bob remained a strong advocate for veterans. For 30 years, he chaired, organized and ran the Loyalty Day and Voice of Democracy Scriptwriting programs sponsored by the Milford Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4368 and held at Milford High School. For 50 years, he chaired, organized and was master of ceremonies for the annual Milford VFW Post 4368 Labor Day Parade. He chaired and announced the Milford Bicentennial Parade in 1994. The Milford VFW Post 4368 honored him as a Lifetime Member in 1983. He also was a member of the American Legion Milford Post 23.

Bob was involved in local, state and national politics for nearly 70 years. Long active in the Democratic Party, he was known as “Mr. Democrat” until he broke from the party in the late 1980s to become a Republican. He chaired the Milford Democratic Committee from 1956-1984; the Hillsborough County Democratic Committee from 1958-1968; and belonged to the New Hampshire Democratic State Committee for 20 years. Bob chaired the NH State Committee for Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty’s 1972 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. He became a Reagan Democrat in 1980 and, in 1984, served as state chairman of the Democrats for Reagan Write-in Committee and Democrats for Reagan-Humphrey. He later served as local GOP campaign chairman for the presidential candidacies of George H.W. Bush, former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, and George W. Bush.

Bob belonged to many community and civic groups. They include: the Ancient Order of Hibernians; Association of the U.S. Army; Yankee Chapter of the American Defense Preparedness Association; and the Milford Town Hall Restoration Committee. He received the National Grange, Granite No. 7 Community Citizen Award in 1990. He was a founder of Southern New Hampshire Services and served on its executive board from 1965-1985.

Bob was a communicant at St. Patrick Church in Milford. He taught religious education and was vice-chairman of the parish council in 1972.  He was a member of the Third Degree Knights of Columbus Milford Assembly 3035, and a charter member of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Milford Assembly 1507.

Calling hours are on Thursday, July 20th from 4:00-8:00 p.m. in the Smith & Heald Funeral Home, 63 Elm Street, Milford. A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Friday at 11:00 a.m. in St. Patrick’s Church, 34 Amherst Street, Milford. Burial will follow in Riverside Cemetery, Milford, with military honors. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Beaver Brook Nature Center, 117 Ridge Road, Hollis, NH 03049 or to the Patient Activity Fund at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, 20 Plantation Drive, Jaffrey, NH 03452. Arrangements are in the care of Smith & Heald Funeral Home, Milford. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please go to www.smith-heald.com.