Madera County Sheriff's Deputy Jack Williamson, 50, a 16-year veteran of the department, has been named Deputy of the Year by a vote of his peers.
The announcement was made by Sheriff John Anderson.
In his 16 years of service with the Mountain Division, Williamson served as a detective through July, 2013, when he stepped down from that position to go back on street patrol.
"I started my career with the Fresno Police Department but decided quickly I did not like the city and didn't want to work there," Williamson said. "I'm a mountain boy and that's where I wanted to work."
Williamson, a 1982 graduate of Yosemite High School, handled most of the sexual assault, identity theft, and child abuse cases when first assigned to Eastern Madera County. He also has investigated burglaries, forgeries, thefts, and assists the Madera County Narcotics Enforcement Team (MADNET) during eradication missions.
It was Williamson who got the sheriff's office involved with Internet crimes against children.
In 2011, Williamson received acclaim for successfully investigating one of the most difficult molestation cases against a Mountain Area man who would eventually be sentenced to what amounted to life in prison.
He was also involved in the search and recovery of the remains of Steve Fossett, 63, the millionaire adventurer and renowned aviator who went missing near Mammoth Lakes area in 2008, after crashing his plane.
Williamson served for many years in the department's specialty units, including Search and Rescue, Dive/Swift Water Team, Snowmobile Team, and Technical Rescue Team, which he helped establish.
He also volunteers his time to community projects.
In 2011 he launched a fundraising campaign to raise awareness about Clancy Shea, of North Fork, a young boy with cerebral palsy. Williamson said that even though the 8-year-old could neither walk nor talk, he had an amazing zest for life.
An avid runner himself, Williamson made it his mission to raise enough funds to purchase a special push stroller so the two of them could compete as a pair in the 2011 Smokey Bear Run at Bass Lake.
The boy's family embraced the plan, and race director Ken Takeuchi, gave Williamson the green light to compete with his 8-year-old partner in the 10K race.
Williamson not only met his fundraising goal to purchase the light-weight stroller for the young boy, he and the community raised enough funds to purchase four additional strollers for other Mountain Area residents with disabilities and their partners so they could participate in the race.
Clancy passed away Feb. 24 at the age of 11.
After talking with the family, Williamson will participate in this year's Smokey Bear run in Clancy's honor again raising funds for a child who has outgrown his stroller and needs a large one.
A comment from one of his peers said "I voted for Jack because he has given selflessly while he was a detective in the mountains. He has shown the same compassion as a deputy, and applies his detective skills on the street."
Another peer described Williamson as quiet and unassuming with an exemplary work ethic.
Williamson has been married to his high school sweetheart, Jerilyn, for 28 years and the couple have three children. Daughter Taylor (Williamson) Messinger and her husband Andrew, of Alaska, Whitney (Williamson) Hershey and her husband Brett and son Rodney, of Hollister; and son Hunter, who is attending California State University, Fresno.
He is the son of Jack Sr. and Judy Williamson who have been Oakhurst residents since 1965. Jack Sr. is retired from Outback Materials and Judy worked for Colburns Department Store in Oakhurst and Outback Materials.
"I work with a good group of fellow deputies, and I love working in the Mountain Area where I grew up and raised my family," Williamson said. "I enjoy coming to work everyday and this award is a reflection of that. I care about my community and it's nice to be able to give back to the people of the Mountain Area. It's truly an honor for me and my family."
"He deserves to be recognized for not only his dedication to duty, but his service to our community as well," Anderson said.
Williamson will be honored during an awards dinner on April 3, at the Madera VFW Hall.