Ex-Judge Verser mourned inside, outside judicial community; memorial rites Saturday

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Former Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Craddock D. Verser, 64, who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, earned respect from those inside and outside the judicial circle, many said Monday, two days after his death.

“He was a very bright guy and would go out of his way for anybody,” said Roger Ramey, owner of the Pennysaver, where Verser bought his newspapers and coffee each morning.

“It’s hard to take,” Ramey said.

“We all knew it was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier. I’m sorry he’s gone, but he’s not in pain anymore.”

Port Townsend musician Jarrod Bramson was 18 when he got in a dust-up with police over a skateboard and ended up spending a weekend in jail.

“I was in front of the video [connecting the jail in Port Hadlock to the courthouse in Port Townsend], and I heard his voice, and he saved me.”

“He got the charges dropped right away,” Bramson said.

“I was really helpless and scared. I didn’t even know that I had a lawyer. My parents didn’t have the money to bail me out.

“I thought I was going to spend weeks in jail.”

Verser, as the county’s sole Superior Court judge from 2004 to 2012, had a direct relationship with many local attorneys who had worked alongside him since 1980 before appearing in his court.

“Working with Crad was delightful,” said Public Defender Richard Davies, who was in the same office as Verser prior to Verser’s elevation to the bench.

“He was fun to be with, and was a fantastic lawyer and had empathy for client situations as well as an understanding of criminal law.

“We loved him, and so did the community.”

District Court Judge Jill Landes said she was most impressed by Verser’s keen legal mind and his dedication to the Port Townsend High School’s mock trial team.

“I was privileged to co-coach the team with him for several years, and was always impressed with how much of himself he gave to the kids and how well he connected with them,” Landes said.

“He will be sorely missed.”

Verser was born and raised in Richmond, Va., earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in education.

He taught junior high before pursuing a law degree which he earned in 1979,

He first came to the North Olympic Peninsula in 1986, working as a public defender in Jefferson and Clallam counties and later as attorney for the Port of Port Townsend.

He also worked in private practice before then-Gov. Gary Locke appointed him to the bench in 2004 after the death of Thomas Majhan, also from cancer.

Verser won election to fill the remainder of Majhan’s term and was re-elected in his own right in 2004 and 2008.

He declined to run for a third term in 2012 due to his cancer diagnosis, which was made while he was on vacation in July 2011.

Verser is survived by his wife, Joyce Verser, of Port Townsend; two daughters, Lindsey Davis Verser of Lorton, Va., and Yvonne Louise Verser of Berkeley, Calif.; one grandson, Austin Davis Verser of Lorton, and a sister, Nancy Brumback of Boston.

A memorial service will be held Sunday at the Port Townsend Elks Lodge 555 Otto St., at a time to be announced.

For information about the service, call Yvonne Verser at 360-774-0904.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 09. 2013 6:02PM
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