That handshake of Michael Jameson

A eulogy from a friend


That handshake.

When he took your hand, you knew it.

And that is what Michael Jameson's presence in the Lacey community meant. Jameson passed away last month, but that memory of his handshake remains for me.

It was not simply a small grip and go. It was a full-on experience when Jameson shook your hand.

He would see you, lock in with eye contact, smile, and his right arm would swing out from his chest, then his hand would come in like a dive bomber, meeting yours.

Jameson was a gem of a man who served our Lacey community far too well. A Viet Nam vet, he would often talk about burying his emotions on the war for decades, only to reconcile with himself on his experiences to heal for the better. Jameson would mention this in public, when sharing his story to combat vets at the Lacey South Sound Chamber Military Affairs Committee meetings held every month at the old Hawks Prairie Restaurant. Jameson's contributions were to help those struggling with their own combat experiences.

Jameson talked about his "why" when helping fundraise over $100,000 for the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument (GSFMM) that stands outside of the Applebees in Lacey. After learning that a late soldier who had served 18 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan wasn't given the "Spirit of Lacey" award because a former Lacey official felt that "the family just lived here" as a military family, Jameson focused his disgust in the right way. Along with GSFMM founder Michael Steadman, Jerry Wilkins, Stewart Ridgeway, Ed Kunkel and myself, Jameson was named organizational president. We pushed hard for people who were no longer in the community, both those who had served and their families left behind. Because, as Jameson would remind us all on each board call, it was "too damn important not to do this."

Jameson was also a significant fundraiser for years for the Real Pirates Wear Pink which funds research for cancer cures. He was usually the lead fundraiser out of the group, and aside from his mortgage job, that's where he dedicated most of his time until he finally retired a couple of years ago. But even in retirement, the man was more active than most of us.

You can tell a lot about a person from the way they shake your hand. Trust. Integrity. Honesty. Jameson had it all and showcased it daily with how he acted throughout his life.

If you happened to be at the Lacey South Sound Chamber events, you saw and met Jameson. You got that handshake. He was a delightful man who was engaging, personable and downright happy to see you. Along with Tiana Kleinhoff and Sarah Daniels, Jameson ran South Sound Connections every month for years to help the Lacey South Sound Chamber further interact with its members.

And always, that handshake was there. Ready to happen. Spread out, coming in for a good firm grip that said you were his friend, even if this was the first time that he had met you. That handshake was there.

Jameson is an absence in the Lacey community that won't be filled anytime soon. Nor will his welcoming handshake.