James Meredith

James Meredith

James L. Meredith

James L. Meredith came to San Juan Island first in the early 1950s with his wife, Susan Meredith, and other friends to enjoy camping and kayaking in the beautiful area around Roche Harbor.

After a few years of traveling to the islands as visitors, they knew it was time to start putting down a few roots. They were able to purchase a place of their own and their love of the islands continued to grow from there.

Upon retiring, Jim and Susan moved permanently into the log cabin they built with their own hands over the course of five years of weekend dashes from Seattle, and with the additional help of many friends.

Jim was born in Lindsay, Calif., and grew up in Berkley. He became an outdoors sports enthusiast as a boy and enjoyed bicycling trips along the coast and later, with the availability of more independent transportation, he would go hiking, and canoeing in the mountains and reservoirs.

After serving in an Army hospital in France during the Second World War, he decided to bike across the United States. At the time he was discharged, he chose to go to New York, as the beginning of his travels across the United States with his one-speed bike to end at his parent’s home in Los Angeles.

A few years after his return home he decided to head north, with the intent of going all the way to Alaska, but he stopped to work in Seattle for awhile and never continued on in the way he planned. Instead, he met his future wife, Susan, and stayed in Seattle, finding employment as a developmental machinist in the oceanography department at the University of Washington.

Eventually, he did manage to get to Alaska on several occasions, for vacation trips and while working on one of the research ships belonging to the University.

Jim managed to continue his enjoyment of the out doors during his entire working life and in his retirement he additionally spent much of his time contributing to his adopted island community as a volunteer fire fighter and as a member of the San Juan Historical Society.

As an amateur history scholar, particularly concentrating on the Lewis and Clark expedition, he contributed to the state’s Lewis and Clark Bicentennial committee. However, he will probably be most widely remembered as one of the re-enactors in the San Juan Island National Historic Park.

He could be found most summer weekends at English Camp, explaining what it would have been like to be a British soldier on San Juan Island during the Pig War, proudly wearing his red-and-blue woolen British uniform. He was very gratified last year to be honored as “Volunteer of the Century” by his fellow, equally dedicated, re-enactors and park employees.

The park provided a perfect stage for Jim’s love of history and exploration of the methods, clothes, and customs of past generations. Jim’s quiet, helpful presence, quirky and unique ways, and sometimes sly and subtle humor will be missed. He is survived by his daughter, Jeannie.

Memorial services will be on Tuesday, Dec. 16. A grave side service will be held at the Valley Cemetery at 11:30 a.m., to be followed by a memorial service at the Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church, at 1 p.m.

— Family of James Meredith