Jamie Lionel Wax 
June 29, 1968 – March 18, 2024

The volunteer bluff supervisor was finally called home March 18, 2024, by his loving wife Fiona, whom he missed so much every day. While most folks in Trinidad saw Jamie as a watcher of life going by, in the office with the most beautiful view on the West Coast, he was so much more.

Born to Dianne Wilson on June 29, 1968, and adopted the next day by Richard and Laurie Wax, Jamie spent his younger years in Southern California, moving to Humboldt County in 1988 to attend College of the Redwoods to study photography. His most recent pursuit landed him as the Trinidad “town therapist,” as well as keeping an eye out on the crab fleet. Jamie always had time to listen to his many “walk-up clients,” as well as working the phone for his longtime friends and “patients.” Some people mistakenly thought Jamie was homeless, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. He owned a beautiful home just outside of town with a park-like yard that he had always kept up for Fiona.

Jamie grew up in Malibu with his sister Jessica. At 6 feet 5 inches tall to Jessica’s 5-foot, 1-inch frame, Jamie was quick to point out that he was adopted. But in typical Jamie fashion he used this to his advantage, often teasing Jessica that he was the chosen one while she was merely an accident. It was in Malibu that Jamie made his first life-long friend, Tony, who coincidentally was also adopted. Together they pursued fishing, surfing, motorcycle riding and all other late ‘70s Southern California beach fun.

In the late ‘80s, when Jamie was documenting the beaches and surfing with his black and white film career, he met his future brother-in-law, Dave. They both lived in Greenwood Heights in Kneeland, and a 35-year friendship was born. To be on Jamie’s call list was an honor most of the time, unless he wanted to mess with you and start the calls before 5 a.m. I was always up early, so a pre-6 a.m. call was a staple for the next 30 years. “Hey, what’s happening?” A listen to the weather radio in the early morning was the key to which activity would be attempted that day. Surfing anywhere from Point Arena to Port Orford, mushroom hunting, fishing, or firewood cutting out east were all options.

Being 6 feet, 5 and an accomplished surfer, Jamie had no problem meeting lifelong surf buddies, such as Jack, Paul, Berto and Caputo, just to name a very few. He also had a lot of fun riding motorcycles with his younger neighbor Steve and his cerebral friend Karl, as well as Warren and Ron, after he moved to Blue Lake.

Jamie’s next stop in the county was up Brannon Mountain, Willow Creek. This is where he picked up his best dog, Pepsi, and funny associate Rue. Jamie, girlfriend Exene, Pepsi and Rue all lived together at an epic house with an inground pool and a flawless garden around the pool. Jamie made lifelong friends on Brannon Mountain, the likes of which included Lionel Lee and Bill and Suzie McKelvey, as well as the McKelvey’s boys, Luke, Travis, and Jake. (Jake also spent many days on the bluff with Jamie, as well as being on the call list.) It was Jamie’s break up with Exene that led him to start smoking cigarettes, which was shocking to all his friends and at 25 years old was a hard habit to start after being so fervently anti-cigarette before.

The Brannon Mountain days were the most adventurous for Jamie, with day-long 3-wheeler rides and barbecues out in the upper Three Creeks and Buck Buttes areas. A lot more firewood cutting and fishing ensued. Canoeing on the river replaced surfing and many overnighters on the South Fork of the Trinity River were had. Trips out to the Pit River and Eagle Lake in the winter scored him some epic fish. Like the bluff in Trinidad, the Big Rock area along the Trinity became his daily hangout to catch up on stories and give advice.

Jamie had been on Brannon Mountain for some time when an opportunity came up to work at his dad’s place in St. Helena. This is where he met his comrade, Tommy. Jamie and Tommy became fast friends and were responsible for maintaining the 23 acres around the massive St. Helena estate. After several months of landscaping Jamie started attending helicopter pilot school. According to Jamie, flying a helicopter was the best roller coaster ride of your life, with you controlling the intensity. Through a series of unique circumstances, Jamie found himself moving to several different cities in Southern California, where his occupation changed to nursery warehouse delivery driver. He rented a room from a cousin and spent most of his off-time perch fishing near Ventura. This is where he met the love of his life, Fiona. Pre-cell phone, we still had the daily call, usually before 5:45 a.m. with the first quart of coffee, and an evening call around 7 p.m. This continued until the fortunate day he was able to move himself and Fiona to his beloved Humboldt County.

Back in Arcata, Jamie was able to introduce Fiona to his nephews, Pierce and Behren, and a multitude of friends. Jamie and Fiona were married in Dave and Jessica’s yard in Westhaven. This new happiness consisted of construction work in Willow Creek as well as getting back into the local industry. Building decks, greenhouses, and teaching Fiona how to trim, they both were able to work together for several years. Hina, Fiona’s niece, visited from Hong Kong about this time, learning English from Uncle Jamie. One of Jamie’s most lasting impressions on his nephew Pierce was his consumption of “nasty ice.” Three-year-old Pierce insisted on carrying a full “nasty ice” can everywhere he went. Unfortunately, the aluminum can would weaken over time, and Jessica had to clean up many blown-out natty ice cans at play groups, day cares, preschools, and markets. This was at the same time life turned dark when Fiona was diagnosed with a severe illness.

Over the course of seven years Jamie was there for Fiona as she navigated the harsh reality of our healthcare system. During this time Jamie’s mom Laurie was also fighting a chronic disease. Like a one-two punch Jamie lost his mom and then his wife. After this Jamie told me he “lost his spark and passion for life.” I, along with his buddies Joey and Kyle, got him out fishing and had wonderful days of limits on all species. But slowly Jamie even lost his passion for fishing. This is when Jamie decided to take on the responsibility of bluff supervisor. Early morning calls worked better from the bluff than the empty front porch at home. Now his official office, the early morning calls starting with “Hey, what’s happening?” almost always started the day with me or “Deli John” competing to be first in line. What I wouldn’t give for one more “Hey, what’s happening?”

On the bluff he garnered an ever-increasing audience for some beneficial therapy. He was a giant of a man with a heart that matched, dispensing advice, sometimes uncomfortable, delivered from the front seat of his black Toyota with the American flag on the antennae. Looked out for by so many in the community: Dorothy and Danny, Ed, Tyler, Jimmy, “Deputy Diane,” Mark and Lori Chester, as well as half the town.

You left us too soon and suddenly, Jamie. I know I’ll see you on the other side when I hear “Hey, what’s happening?” followed by the cloud and swell report.

Some 200 people gathered at the Trinidad bluff on March 23 to pay tribute to Jamie. Another memorial service will be held sometime this summer.

Jamie was preceded in death by his mother Laurie, wife Fiona, Grandpa Morty, as well as Pepsi, Rue and Rue #2.

He is survived by his father Richard (Hildegard) Wax, sister Jessica Slamkowski, brother-in-law David Slamkowski, nephews Pierce and Behren, niece Hina, birth mother Diane Wilson, two aunts and several cousins on the East Coast.

Arrangements through Ayers Family Cremation.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Jamie Wax’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.