Press "Enter" to skip to content

ED Denson: Protester And Peacemaker; A Commemoration

It’s been over two months since Ed Denson left us and, well, we can’t say we didn’t see it coming, as he had supplied us with the play-by-play of his health issues on Facebook, as well as a lot of other things going on in his life over the last few years, months, and weeks, always sprinkled with humor. (When he mentioned the motels he stayed in near the hospitals, for health checkups and medical procedures, he gave us a look into our futures and I made a note of the names and addresses.)

When he was hospitalized for the last time he announced that he wouldn’t be able to eat normally for the next six months, they had given him a feeding tube and, ever the optimist, he was already planning to resume his court appearances, tube included.

ED Denson

Ed had many interesting and illustrious careers during his full life of eighty-four years, at least three involving music, and he’ll be missed for his social activism and much more. During the last couple decades he drove hundreds of miles daily, thousands monthly, on the law circuit from Ukiah to Weaverville, listening to informative books along the way and describing the trips to his readers.

He was our local hero, spokesman, universal neighbor, champion of medical marijuana, defender of every weed farmer and backwoods dweller under attack from the overzealous forces of abatement, and a fervent homeless advocate. He shared his opinions and knowledge with anyone who asked, either on the street or on his call-in talk show The Rights Organization. On one of his shows he informed his listeners that it was illegal for the county supervisors to increase taxes on the voter-passed cannabis tax (Measure S), and suggested someone should sue to make them stop. When no one stepped up, Ed sued and after a few years he won.

(Yeah, the county tried to weasel out of it, and it made me realize how the system worked: official government can do anything they want, break any rule or law, and if no one puts in the time and energy to call them on it, convince a judge to rule that what they’re doing is illegal, then they can just go ahead and keep breaking the law, but not on Ed’s watch.)

He was an irreplaceable force of intelligence and advocacy, the person to call if you were being harassed by government bureaucracy and the planning department. Diplomatic and courteous, with integrity and grace, he made his points calmly in that folksy Maryland fashion, leaving the hysterics to others. (He was also flexible, and when the cannabis business started failing he turned to DUI’s, then on to custody cases when marijuana finally tanked.)

He was a humorist, writer, and entertainer, as well as groundskeeper for his orchard, fields, and weeds at the 10 Springs Ranch homestead in Alderpoint, where he was a mower, weed-whacker, waterline-fixer, and firebreak-maker. Ed was a lover of food and drink, both fine and fast, and relaxed at cocktail hour on the veranda with his sweetheart Mary Alice Denson.

After he came home from the hospital he went silent, we all wondered, and his good friend Nichole Norris messaged her mentor, father figure, and biggest supporter. “I feel you’re leaving us ED, please tell me I’m wrong,” she said.

“You’re wrong,” he answered and soon after signed off with his final public message, the quote: “That government is best which governs least.”

We’ll be thinking about Eugene ED Denson, beloved icon, for a long time. He was a good guy who saw it all, did it all, and died with his boots on.

Eugene Denson: March 3 1940, Washington D.C.-- April 12 2024, Alderpoint, at home.

(Memorial is July 27th at the Community Park in the afternoon. More details forthcoming.)


  1. Untroubled Mind June 21, 2024

    I’m a little ashamed to say I hadn’t realized Ed Denson passed away. My radio dial must’ve drifted from kmud for too long. Dang. Always loved listening to don’t get trouble on your mind on kmud while running Saturday errands and house chores. It was a real treat of a show, and you could tell Ed put a lot of work into it. Rest In Peace, Ed this song’s for you

    • Katherine Houston June 21, 2024

      I was also unaware he had passed. He was the most courteous and dignified attorney I encountered as a prosecutor, and we often enjoyed discussions of subjects other than our professional lives. He was a great man in so many ways, and I am sorry he is gone. He was always optimistic about his health; I just assumed he would go on forever. Thank you, Ed, for being in our lives.

  2. Paul Modic Post author | June 21, 2024

    (Yeah, the county tried to weasel out of it, and it made me realize how the system worked: official government can do anything they want, break any rule or law, and if no one puts in the time and energy to call them on it, convince a judge to rule that what they’re doing is illegal, then they can just go ahead and keep breaking the law, but not on Ed’s watch.)
    The Cubbison case illustrates that now.

  3. Marshall Newman June 21, 2024

    On the LPs he helped make, it was always ED Denson.

    • Paul Modic Post author | June 21, 2024

      I blew that! By the time his widow told me this morning I had already sent this one in as “Ed”
      Good catch!
      Then I thought, hmm, ask the ava to change each Ed to ED? (about three)
      nah, that would be too picky, fo sho…

      • Marshall Newman June 23, 2024

        No worries.

  4. Laura Cooskey June 21, 2024

    What a very kind tribute, Paul– unqualified admiration.
    I only knew ED through his voice on the radio; sometimes it was Don’t Get Trouble on Your Mind, sometimes (more recently) local talk shows. He always sounded reasonable and calm. His “heated” mode was like me when the coffee’s weak… i mean, it took a lot to get him worked up. You could tell when he was, but still, compared to most of us, he really reined in the dramatics. He seemed to have a conviction that’s what’s good is good, and we don’t need to yell about it.
    Thank you for this remembrance.

    • Paul Modic Post author | June 22, 2024

      Yeah, I laid that on a little thick, but hey,
      it was all true…
      (See? I can be nice…)

  5. Paul Modic Post author | June 23, 2024

    In other news, I had my book opening in Redway last week and here’s how it went down:
    Book Opening!
    I started with some off-the-cuff comments about memorable things people have done, talked about regrets and told about a few minor ones, told the stories about my strangest experiences, told my best “amazing coincidence” story (about Jack Kerauac), explained the process of collating my book, read the first sentence from a random article, finished with eighteen jokes from the “comedy” routine I did at the Grants Pass church five years ago, and got some laughs.
    It was a great experience, I was relaxed and wouldn’t have cared if there were just three people, or if they told me it was cancelled, and I was amazed to see all those people sitting around in the circle when I came into the yard, about fifteen.
    I left empowered, thinking I am or could be a performer. After a break for dinner one of the people, Erin, read aloud a story called “Mail Order Brides,” which she’d noticed when I had passed around the table of contents, and she really got into it, better than my monotone delivery, I’d never heard anyone read one of mine before like that, and liked listening to it.
    After the show everyone got quickly back into their comfort zones, gabbing amongst themselves, my whole act took about twenty to thirty minutes, hmm, would have been nice to record it, oh well…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *