Retiring sheriff shares his memories of historic Camas

Garry Lucas lived locally for 60 years

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As Garry Lucas retires this week after serving 24 years as the sheriff of Clark County, some local residents might not realize his family’s connection to the Camas-Washougal area.

Lucas, 71, lived in or near Camas from 1943 to 2003.

He was adopted as a baby by Donald and Geneva Lucas. The first house they all lived in was located on what is now the Safeway parking lot, 800 N.E. Third Ave. At the age of 5, Lucas and his family moved to a house at 220 N.E. Ione St. After that, they lived in a house by Lacamas Lake.

Donald Lucas and his brother, Lamont “Smokey” Lucas, owned Cowan’s Cigar Store, a tavern restaurant on the 200 block of Northeast Fourth Avenue, from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s.

During a recent visit to downtown Camas, Lucas visited Sportsman Barber Shop, located next to the space where his family’s business had been located. He viewed historic photographs with barber Lyle Shaver.

George Henriksen, the father of former Camas Mayor Nan Henriksen, was a pharmacist across the street in a space that is currently vacant next to the Liberty Theatre. Lucas recalled watching matinee movies for a nickel at the Liberty.

He was among the students who were part of the first freshman class at the new Camas High School, in 1957. The building at 1612 N.E. Garfield St., is now the site of Liberty Middle School.

As a student at CHS, Lucas played football from his sophomore through senior years. He graduated in 1961.

Lucas, a former member of the Southwest Washington Evergreen Officials Association, officiated for more than 28 years at high school football games, including Camas and Washougal. He recalled that the former field at Doc Harris Stadium was primarily a “mud bog,” from one 35-yard line to the other. Lucas was a referee at games from Goldendale to Kelso.

Spending a lifetime in law enforcement

Lucas’s career in law enforcement began with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office 47 years ago. He graduated from the Washington Basic Law Enforcement Academy in 1973 and the FBI National Academy in 1975.

Lucas attended Clark College and then earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Seattle City University in 1985.

His education continued with graduations from the National Sheriff’s Institute in 2001, and the FBI Executive Development Academy in 2003.

Prior to being elected sheriff in 1990, Lucas served as a deputy, sergeant, lieutenant and chief criminal deputy. He was elected six times.

Lucas considers his accomplishments to include running on a platform of a community policing philosophy when he was seeking the position of sheriff in 1990. Community policing has involved partnerships with businesses and neighborhood associations, to enhance safety in Clark County and prevent and solve crime.

Lucas was one of the founders of “Santa’s Posse,” which provides food, toys and toiletry items for families in need. Nineteen years ago, the volunteer effort assisted 35 families. That has increased to more than 750 families.

Another accomplishment, in Lucas’ view, has involved partnerships and mutual aid and support with local police departments and law enforcement agencies in Southwest Washington.

“None of us is big enough to do it by ourselves,” he said.

“I’ve worked hard to build and maintain those relationships,” Lucas added.

He was involved in the formation of Seniors and Law Enforcement Together in the mid 1990s. An annual spaghetti luncheon, held in February at Liberty Middle School, has included servings of sauce prepared by the sheriff.

Lucas’ Bolognese sauce includes six pounds of ground beef and six pounds of Italian sausage, cooked in a 10-gallon pot he saved from his parents’ restaurant.

There are also about four bottles of a “secret ingredient,” according to Lucas.

“It simmers at home the day before [the S.A.L.T. lunch] and cooks all night,” he said, regarding the spaghetti sauce.

Lucas said he probably will not take part in the 2015 S.A.L.T. luncheon. His successor Chuck Atkins has been invited to participate in the event.

Challenges and rewards

Lucas said he has not been bored since he got into law enforcement.

Challenges have included operating an underfunded department with limited resources. That has involved searching for ways to use resources more effectively.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has 146 sworn officers, including Lucas.

Challenges for law enforcement, in general, include what he said are the typical personnel issues.

“It never ceases to amaze me the length some people will go, to screw up a perfectly good career,” Lucas said.

Regarding his more than two decades as sheriff, he said he is content.

“I love what I do, who I do it with and who I do it for,” Lucas said. “The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is a great organization.

“It’s not that we don’t have issues and problems, but we do have people invest their time, talents and resources to make this a better place to live,” he added.

Retirement plans

Earlier this month, Lucas was appointed to The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. The three years of service in a national post will involve four annual flights across the U.S.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office became an accredited law enforcement agency in 1986.

“It’s just time,” Lucas said, regarding his decision to retire.

He described himself as an amateur genealogist. Lucas is a former president of the Clark County Genealogical Society.

In 1996, he located his birth mother. Lucas has traced his family tree to 1650, in Cornwall, England.

Lucas and his wife, Kayte, live in the Salmon Creek area.