Charles W. Jameson; 1939-2014: Mich. judge devoted life to serving others


ADRIAN — Judge Charles W. Jameson, who had been Lenawee County’s Probate Court judge, as his father had been, died Wednesday in University of Michigan Hospital. He was 74.

He had a disease called Wegener’s granulomatosis that can affect the kidneys and lungs, his wife, Anne, said.

Judge Jameson, a Democrat, retired from the bench in 2005. His father, Judge Robert J. Baker, also a Democrat, had retired in 1991. Judge Jameson was first elected in 1992, defeating the man whom Republican Gov. John Engler appointed to succeed Judge Baker.

“Chuck was a very astute politician and managed to get the kind of support he was going to need in a Republican county,” his wife said. “There are some charismatic-type people whose zest for what they’re doing attracts a lot of other folks.”

Judge Jameson was elected to a full six-year term in 1994 and re-elected in 2000.

“He wanted to continue his father’s legacy,” said Tim Pickard, a retired judge of Lenawee County Circuit Court and a former law partner. “He could sympathize with people who came to his court and had a great heart.”

Judge Jameson’s successor, Judge Margaret Noe, now a Circuit Court judge, worked before him as a prosecutor.

“He respected the people who stood before him, without regard to their circumstances,” Judge Noe said. “He wanted to do what was right. No matter whether you agreed with his decision or not, he had the knack of leaving the people who stood before [him] with a sense that they had received justice.”

He created programs to help juveniles with substance abuse and other difficulties. He convened a conference at Adrian College on preventing violence, especially in the home. His duties included dealing with the aftermath of child abuse and neglect, and at times he had to terminate parental rights. Adoptions were his favorite duty, his wife said.

Judge Jameson was a former president of the Southeastern Michigan Probate Judges Association. He’d been the Lenawee County Bar Association president.

He’d been a president of the local Salvation Army board and of the Community Action Agency. He was a Mason and a member of Tecumseh Lodge, F&AM. He’d been named a citizen of the year by the North Adrian Grange and by the local NAACP.

“In all those organizations, his first purpose was to serve others,” his wife said.

For years, he was a partner in a general law practice. He defended, sometimes without charge, criminal suspects. He represented clients challenging companies whose products failed and caused harm.

“He liked the contest of the legal battle,” his wife said. “He didn’t really care how the establishment felt about his cases or who he represented.”

Judge Pickard, who began as a clerk in the Jameson law office, added: “He had a real feeling for the common man and was able to communicate directly to people when he would argue before a jury. He was a real down-to-earth guy.”

Judge Jameson ran for Congress in 1972 and was defeated.

He was born Dec. 10, 1939, in Jackson, Mich., and was a graduate of Jackson High School and Adrian College. He received his law degree from Ohio Northern University, as his father had.

His father and his mother, Marie Steiner, preceded him in death.

Surviving are his wife, Anne Jameson, whom he married June 16, 1962; sons, Charles W. II and Robert Jameson; daughters, Leigh Jameson-Heise, and Jessica Chesser; half brothers Thomas and Gerald Steiner; stepmother, Esther Baker; eight grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter.

Visitation will be 1-7 p.m. today in the Wagley Funeral Home, Adrian, with a Masonic service at 6:30 p.m. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Monday in the mortuary.

The family suggests tributes to Shriners Hospitals in care of the mortuary.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.