By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
Want more top stories? Sign up here for daily or weekly newsletters with our top news.
Verser died Saturday at home, surrounded by his family.
“Judge Verser was a great influence on the law and the community,” County Commissioner John Austin said.
“We are sorry to see him go.”
Jefferson County Sheriff Tony Hernandez said of Verser, “He was a dedicated public servant and an excellent judge.
“He had a tremendous amount of poise and was very deliberate and careful when he was weighing the facts of any case,” Hernandez said.
Verser was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2011 and was treated successfully enough that he announced his intention to run in April 2012.
But he changed his mind a few weeks later because he did not want his cancer to become an issue.
Verser, who had a long legal career in Jefferson County, was appointed to the bench in 2004 after the death of Thomas Majhan and won election in his own right later that year.
He was re-elected in 2008.
During his eight years on the bench, Verser presided over cases involving brutal crimes but said he maintained an even keel by following one of the law's most important tenets.
After announcing the decision to not seek another term, he endorsed Port Townsend attorney Keith Harper as his successor, who was elected in November.
“He was a very good lawyer and worked hard as a judge,” Harper said.
“He had an ideal judicial temperament and a great demeanor while sitting on the bench. I appreciated very much his support of me both as a court Commissioner and as a candidate.
“I am a judge now in large part because of” Verser, Harper said.
Superior Court Clerk Ruth Gordon said, “It was great to have someone with such broad experience on the bench.
“He had a love of the law, and along with a dollop of common sense and passion, he understood that his decisions had an impact on people.”
After his retirement, Verser worked as a conflict attorney, representing public clients who could not be represented by the county public defender.
“He was fortunate to have time with his family,” said Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Rosekrans, as “people with a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer tend to go pretty quickly.
Verser, Rosekrans said, “had a love of the law, and when he was a judge, it was clear that he missed being a lawyer.”
Verser's last appearance in court was in July, at which time it was clear to both Gordon and Rosekrans that he wasn't doing well.
“We looked forward to seeing him when he came in, but it was obvious that he wasn't doing well,” Gordon said.
“It was obvious that he was in pain and had accepted that the fight was over.”
“When he left, it was a real loss for juvenile court,” said Juelie Dalzell, Rosekrans' predecessor.
“He was great with kids, he understood their background and their needs.
“He used to be a history teacher and had a lot of experience with kids.”
Daughter Yvonne Verser, a 2004 graduate of Port Townsend High School, said her father presided over several mock trials during her school career.
“He was the best dad imaginable for both my sister and myself,” she said.
“He did the best that he could to help the community and was passionate about life until the very end.”
Verser was married to Kimberly Verser, now Kimberly Metz, of Virginia from 1982 to 2003.
He is survived by his wife Joyce, whom he married in a courtroom ceremony on Feb. 19. 2011.
He also leaves two daughters, Lindsey Verser of Lorton, Va., and Yvonne Verser of Berkeley, Calif., as well as a grandchild, Austin Verser of Lorton, Va., and a sister, Nancy Breubach of Sudbury, Mass.
No funeral services are planned, but a celebration of life will be held at a later time, Joyce Verser said.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at email@example.com.