The son of an attorney, Island County Chief Civil Deputy Dave Jamieson said his training in the law started around the family dinner table.
“I’m very interested in the details of things,” Jamieson said. “It’s a real problem-solving endeavor as well as something that helps people. Those attributes really attracted me to the law.”
After dedicating his life to serving Island County, it was announced this week that he will retire after 37 years. His last day is Aug. 14.
Daniel Mitchell, who has been with the department for five years, will fill Jamieson’s position beginning Aug. 16.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with all the people in Island County,” Jamieson said.
Given his early interest in the precision and problem-solving that comprises the practice of law, Jamieson graduated from Gonzaga Law School in 1975, after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Washington. He worked at his father’s Tacoma law firm until he was hired by Island County in 1976.
In a September 1976 interview with the Whidbey News-Times, when Jamieson first took a position with Island County, he said he looked forward to getting experience in criminal law, county government and representing government agencies.
Jamieson got that experience.
Starting first as deputy criminal prosecutor, Jamieson “wore a lot of hats” assisting both in civil and criminal cases. A separate deputy civil prosecutor position was developed in the 1980s, which Jamieson assumed until today. As his institutional knowledge grew over the years, Jamieson went on to become an invaluable asset in advising county departments and elected officials.
Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, who has worked with Jamieson for 20 years, said he was “terribly sad” at the news and added the term “loss” was an understatement.
“I’ve known Dave a long time,” Banks said. “I’ll miss him a lot. I think a lot of people at the county will miss him.
“It will be a big change for us. It’s like losing a major body part.”
Banks described Jamieson as a “walking encyclopedia,” an “incredibly capable person who has a quick memory for things that happened a decade ago.”
Jamieson has been eligible for retirement since his 30th year with Island County, but has stayed on because he really enjoys his work, he said.
Now 66, Jamieson said he is looking forward to doing other things, including spending a lot of time with his wife, six adult children and 10 grandchildren.
“I want to spend more time with them,” he said. “Not miss out on those experiences.”
Jamieson said he’s also looking forward to giving back to the community in new ways in keeping with his strong Christian faith.
“I want to be helpful to people,” Jamieson said. “Volunteer and seize the moment to do positive things.”
Jamieson plans to use some long-saved frequent flyer miles to do some traveling with his family, starting first with trips to Australia and New Zealand.
Jamieson said he sees his work with the county as both challenging and rewarding, but looks forward to a new chapter in his life.
Mac McDowell, who served as Island County commissioner for 15 years, from 1993 to 2008, said Jamieson steered clear of petty politics and focused on keeping the commissioners on the strait and narrow.
“He was great to work with, I enjoyed every minute of it,” McDowell said. “He was always willing to give advice and try to keep the commission out of legal trouble.”
Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, now in her fifth year on the board, said Jamieson set the bar high for anyone who fills his shoes.
“He’s a thorough professional, dedicated to his work and to county process,” Price Johnson said.
She added that the loss of Jamieson’s historical knowledge of the county will be a challenge.
“Very few people have the historical knowledge and background that he has,” Price Johnson said. “I hope he’s willing to be a phone-a-friend.”