Bruce F. Jamerson, who as clerk of the House of Delegates for 20 years served as the chamber’s chief historian and protector of its traditions, has died, House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) announced Monday. He was 53.

Jamerson had been present as usual in recent weeks when the House met in special session to consider redistricting, and had just returned Saturday from a cruise to the Mediterranean with his family. He died Sunday.

“Bruce Jamerson was a State Capitol institution,” Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said in a statement. “He knew the history of Jefferson’s Capitol, the Square that surrounded it and the individuals who worked in it, better than anyone else. He loved his work, and he loved our Commonwealth. . . .His was a life of substance, character and meaning. Bruce will be deeply missed. Our memories of him will be forever cherished.”

As House clerk, Jamerson helped lead the renovations of the Virginia State Capitol that concluded in 2007. Along with delegates, he met with the Queen of England when she visited Virginia that year. Every four years he helped inaugurate the Commonwealth’s governor.

He was widely acknowledged to be an expert in the history of the House, the oldest continuously operating legislative body in the western hemisphere. His phone extension at the Capitol, famously, was x1619, the year of the first meeting of the Virginia House of Burgesses.

“As Clerk of the House of Delegates for 20 years, Bruce embodied so much of what is good and noble about public service,” Howell said in a statement. “He was a consummate professional who understood well that the first rule of success is hard work. That he always did without fail, with a warm and friendly demeanor and out of an abiding respect for every member, staff colleague or visitor to Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol.”