Though she was always on the move, those who knew Anika Bliss Jamison speak of her warm, free spirit, her ear for music, her faith and her unmatched piano chops. She had a contagious smile, with a mystery about her that kept even those closest to her curious about her thoughts and motivations.
Jamison was struck and killed on April 5 near Roseburg while walking in the travel lanes of Interstate 5. She was 24 years old and houseless. The youngest of four, she’s survived by two half siblings and one full, as well as her parents and grandfather. She was closest with her siblings and grandfather, but fell out of contact with many others over the years.
Like many without a permanent home, Jamison fought demons. She carried the weight of family trauma, and she dealt with addiction throughout her young life.
“She was so many things,” says Halee Glidden, Jamison’s half sister. “She was very creative, very talented.” Glidden spoke of Jamison’s uncanny ability to replicate jingles from TV shows almost instantly on the piano when they were kids.
During her teenage years and early adulthood, Jamison left her family and home in Mapleton and began to travel around the West. According to her brother, Jericho Jamison, she didn’t have much of any plan, or at least not one that she shared with others. Other siblings left home early as well, running from what they said was an unstable home life.
“We had a pretty rough childhood from the get-go,” Jericho Jamison says of their childhood. “By the age of 15, my sister had been as far as Colorado, Nevada, just traveling around. She kind of became a street kid.”
Anika Jamison’s travels often left people wondering what she got out of it. She was looking for “an actual home,” Glidden says, but to this day says she’s unsure what Jamison found in her travels.
Jamison’s brother and grandfather were among the few family members who remained in the Mapleton area over the years. She lived with each of them occasionally, but aside from that, Jericho says, “Nobody ever knew where she was.”
Her time spent living with family members between stints away rekindled relationships with family members, especially with her brother and her grandfather, Johnny Kallas.
Kallas remembers Jamison’s time spent living at his home in Deadwood. When she needed something, or somewhere to stay, he was often her first call. She stayed with him and her grandmother periodically throughout her teenage years and young adulthood, when she wasn’t on the road.
“I don’t think anyone else wanted her, but we wanted her,” Kallas says. He adds: “I just loved her. No matter what was going on in her life, I loved her.”
Through her plight, her brother says, she turned to music, to God and to a select group of family members to lean on.
“She loved Jesus,” Jericho says. “She struggled with her own things, but God called her home.”
Last winter, she moved in with her brother at his house in Swisshome. Stationary for the first time in nearly a decade, she was turning a corner. After moving in at Jericho’s request, she did her best to put her addiction behind her. That was when Glidden saw Jamison for the last time.
“Jericho had taken her in, and was trying to take care of her, keep her on the right track, and she looked really healthy and really happy,” Glidden says. “That’s probably the most carefree that I’ve seen her.”
In mid-February, her brother was taken into police custody on second-degree murder charges in connection with a Feb. 15 shooting in Deadwood. Jericho tried to arrange for her to live with the neighbors, but something went awry and she didn’t stay. Before long, Jamison’s life was on the move once again.
Her brother remains incarcerated.
It remains unclear to her family members where she was going on April 5. But last her relatives had seen her, she was heading to a women’s home in Grants Pass. Jericho recalls hearing the news of her death through a relative, who visited him at the Lane County Jail that day.
“She was saved, she’s in a better place,” Jericho says. “She’s with my grandma now.”
He adds: “It’s way better up there than it is down here. I have to put all of my feelings aside and acknowledge that she’s no longer suffering, she can finally be at rest and not have to worry about where she’s going to lay her head.”
There will be a memorial for Anika Jamison at 1 pm June 5 at the Woahink Meeting Yurt off Canary Road in Florence.