Jean Doerge

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Jean McGlothlin Doerge​


Louisiana State Representative for District 10 (Webster Parish)​
In office
1998​ – January 9, 2012​
Preceded by Everett Gail Doerge​
Succeeded by Gene Reynolds

Born June 4, 1937​
Gailbraith, Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Everett Doerge (married 1957-1998, his death)​
Children Sherie Doerge Lester

Two grandsons​

Occupation Retired educator
Religion United Methodist

Jean McGlothlin Doerge (born June 4, 1937) is a retired school teacher from Minden, Louisiana, and a Democratic former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, who represented District 10 (Webster Parish) from the death in 1998 of her husband, Everett Gail Doerge, until January 9, 2012. In 2007, her colleagues named her to the House Appropriations Committee, a key panel that approves state spending. While in the legislature Doerge (pronounced DURR GHEE) was a member of the Hurricane Katrina Memorial Commission and the Democratic Caucus.​ ​

Background

​ She was born to Thomas McGlothlin (1903–1966) and the former Cora Vercher (1904–1975) in tiny Galbraith in Natchitoches Parish in Central Louisiana. The middle child in a family of seven daughters, she graduated from Cloutierville High School in Natchitoches Parish. Thereafter, she attended Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, where she met Everett Doerge, a native of Minden. They married in August 1957, and both graduated in 1958. Later, she received her master's degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and thirty additional hours of credits in professional education from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston.​

Doerge first taught at Minden (Louisiana) High School when it was ranked among the ten best schools in the state. For several years, the Doerges moved around, having been teachers for two years in Smith County, Texas. When Everett went to Northwestern as an assistant coach, Jean worked in an office in Natchitoches. Later, she resumed teaching in Cotton Valley in Webster Parish.​ ​ In March 1965, the Doerges adopted their daughter, Sherie, a Minden High School educator who was married until his death to Kevin Lester (1963-2016). Sherie and Kevin have two sons. In 1966, Mrs. Doerge returned to Minden High School and worked in the business education department there until 1992, when both she and her husband retired. In 1985, she was named "Louisiana Business Educator of the Year."[1]

Campaigns and elections

​ Everett Doerge then ran for the Louisiana House, winning by only seventy-one votes over the Republican incumbent Eugene F. Eason of Springhill in northern Webster Parish.​

Doerge was a big reelection winner in 1995, when he defeated two Republican women. He died near the end of his second term. Jean, widowed at the age of sixty-one, ran in the special election to succeed him and was an easy winner. She polled 3,048 votes (67 percent) to defeat the Democrat-turned-Republican Garland Mack Garrett, an oil company owner from Springhill born in 1942,[2] who obtained 1,481 ballots (33 percent). She was subsequently elected without opposition to full terms in 1999 and 2003. Doerge is the third woman to succeed her husband in the Webster Parish state House seat. Lizzie P. Thompson and Mary Smith Gleason were both named to the seat by Governor Earl Kemp Long when their husbands, C. W. Thompson (1890-1951) and Ernest Dewey Gleason (1899-1959), died in office. Unlike Doerge, neither Thompson nor Gleason sought to hold the seat for a term of her own.​ ​

Legislative accomplishments

In 2001, Mrs. Doerge worked to establish a special district to authorize the creation of a fire and emergency training service district, only the second created in Louisiana. She helped various residents in the Dubberly community in south Webster Parish obtain water service when their wells went dry. She also helped to secure a grant for the Cotton Valley water system.​

In 2002, she helped the Springhill Medical Center obtain placement in the Rural Hospital Coalition, a move which enabled the facility to obtain additional funds. She pushed for the designation of a tourism center in Springhill, with appropriate directional signs to the new facility. She also worked for a jogging trail in Frank Anthony Park and for the funding to renovate the Spring Theatre.​

She pushed successfully for funding to relocate the Northwest Louisiana Technical College in Minden to its new campus which opened in 2013 off the Interstate 20 service road.

​Doerge pulled strings to obtain special surgery in St. Louis, Missouri, for a cerebral palsy patient, 5-year-old Jeremy Logan Curtis. Had she not acted, the child would have been a permanent invalid. The surgery was successful, and the child was thereafter able to walk and play and face a bright future.​

Doerge's alma mater, NSU, inducted her into the College of Business Hall of Distinction. Her name is engraved on a plaque located in the foyer of Russell Hall.

Last reelection, 2007

​Doerge easily retained her seat in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on October 20, 2007. She received 6,681 votes (57 percent) to 4,133 (35 percent) for Ronnie Broughton of Minden, the then president of the Webster Parish School Board and a Republican who later left that party to become the state chairman of the Constitution Party.[3] An African-American candidate, Terrell Mendenhall of Cullen, south of Springhill, polled 915 ballots (8 percent).[4]

Broughton had committed to the victorious Republican gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal, but Doerge had proclaimed her neutrality in the governor's race in which her former legislative colleague, Foster Lonnie Campbell, was also a candidate. Broughton questioned why Louisiana Highway 371 remains a two-lane road. He had promised if elected to "bring transportation dollars home to our area." Broughton also proclaimed himself a pro-life candidate: "Life starts at conception, marriage is between a man and woman, and the Second Amendment should be protected and held sacred."​

Term-limited in 2011

Representative Doerge flanked by two supporters

Doerge was term-limited in 2011. In the primary election held on October 22, three Republicans, Ronnie Broughton making a second bid for the seat, businessman and former banker Gerald Holland of Springhill, and educator and businesswoman Jeri de Pingre of Minden, and a Democrat, Gene Reynolds of Dubberly, sought to succeed Doerge.[5]​ ​ In 2007, then U.S. Senator David Vitter's campaign organization, the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, has urged primary voters to support either Broughton or Holland but omitted de Pingre from the recommended choices.[6] Area Democrats, including Doerge, endorsed Reynolds, who like Doerge is a former educator.​

Reynolds led the four-candidate field with 3,725 votes (39 percent), and de Pingre trailed with 2,498 votes (26.1 percent). Both candidates backed by Senator Vitter finished out of the running. Gerald Holland received 2,131 votes (22.3 percent), and Ronnie Broughton, Doerge's opponent from 2007, trailed with 1,205 votes (12.6 percent).[5]

In the general election held on November 19, 2011, Reynolds defeated Republican Jeri de Pingre, 4,232 votes (54.7 percent) to 3,508 votes (45.3 percent).[7] He hence succeeded Doerge on January 9, 2012.​

Cancer survivor

Doerge is a breast cancer survivor. In an interview with Juanita Agan (1923-2008) of The Minden Press-Herald, the Methodist Doerge attributed her recovery to the will and love of God and His answer to her prayers for strength and endurance.

Museum director

Doerge is the director of the Germantown Colony and Museum in Webster Parish. A $512,000 visitor center, for which she worked as a lawmaker to obtain the appropriation, opened in November 2014. The dogtrot-style building showcases German settlers who established a commune in North Louisiana beginning in the mid-1800s in a quest to avoid religious persecution.[8]

This is the last museum to have been added to the state system: "We are telling a part of history that's almost been lost. We're opening that up to not only adults but children as well," Doerge said.[8]​ ​

References

  1. Minden Press-Herald, November 28, 1985, p. 1.
  2. "Garrett is Senate challenger," Minden Press-Herald, September 16, 1987, p. 4A.
  3. Constitution Party meets possible presidential nominee. The Alexandria Town Talk. Retrieved on July 27, 2015; no longer on-line..
  4. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 20, 2007.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 22, 2011.
  6. A look at the La. races targeted by the Vitter group. The New Orleans Times-Picayune (August 4, 2011). Retrieved on October 22, 2011; no longer on-line..
  7. Louisiana Secretary of State, General election returns, November 19, 2011
  8. 8.0 8.1 Kate Archer Kent, "Germantown Colony Museum reopens in Minden, 1800s artifacts preserved", mediad.publicbroadcasting.net, November 21, 2014

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