James Desermeaux, former San Juan County assessor, dies

James Leon Desermeaux, former San Juan County assessor and 42-year resident of Friday Harbor, has died.

Mr. Desermeaux died at home on June 18. He was 75.

He was born in Seattle on Sept. 3, 1932. He started his life on Queen Anne Hill and lived there until he joined the U.S. Air Force at age 17. He was stationed in the Bahamas during the Korean War, taking photos of guided missiles. After he left the Air Force, he raced his MG at Daytona Beach in mini-stock races.

He attended the University of Arizona to study engineering. He returned to Seattle in 1960 to work at Boeing and continue work on his degree at the University of Washington.

In 1961, he met Mary Jane Fleming from Friday Harbor, who was in school with him at U.W. and also worked at Boeing. They married in 1963, then they moved to Friday Harbor in 1966 to raise their three children.

Mr. Desermeaux was a contractor and a pilot. He loved his Stinson. He later remarried, to Raelyn Blake from Lopez Island.

Mr. Desermeaux was concerned for the future of the San Juan Islands, so he ran for county assessor. He won the election and was a public servant for four years. He also ran for state representative and county commissioner.

He had many different occupations over his lifetime. He raised cattle. He had a cabinet shop, the Corner Store. He grew fields of daffodils and gave them to people at the nursing home. He raised sheep and worked his dogs. His dog, Matty, was his best friend. Many people may have known him as Santa Claus. He helped the Food Bank, the San Juan Historical Museum, and other local organizations.

Mr. Desermeaux had three children, Shawn, Jim and Christy; and five grandchildren, Angela, Tasha, Kayla, Rocky and Julia.

Memorials may be sent to Skagit Hospice. Houston Taylor and Ingrid Bower from Skagit Hospice and a caregiver team helped Mr. Desermeaux immensely in the last days of his life, so he could stay at home:

Skagit Hospice Foundation
P.O. Box 1376
Mount Vernon, WA. 98273

Services will be announced.

James Leon Desermeaux
Sept. 3, 1932 - June 18, 2008

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