Everett Doerge

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Everett Gail Doerge
Louisiana State Representative from District 10 (Webster Parish)
In office
January 1992 – April 17, 1998
Preceded by Eugene Eason
Succeeded by Jean McGlothlin Doerge
Personal details
Born (1935-05-06)May 6, 1935
Port Arthur, Texas, USA
Died April 17, 1998(1998-04-17) (aged 62)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Resting place Gardens of Memory Cemetery (Minden, Louisiana)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jean M. Doerge (married 1957–1998, his death)
Children Sherie Doerge Lester
Alma mater Minden High School

Mississippi State University
Northwestern State University
Louisiana State University

Occupation Educator
Religion United Methodist
Military service
Service/branch United States Army

Everett Gail Doerge (May 6, 1935 – April 17, 1998) was an American state legislator who served as a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 10 (Webster Parish) from January 1992 until his death in office.

Early years, education, military[edit]

Everett Doerge (pronounced DURR-ghee) was born in Port Arthur, a city on the bank of Sabine Lake in far southeastern Texas. In 1943, as the country was entering its second year of participation in World War II, his parents, George G. Doerge (1901–1976) and Jewel M. Doerge (1907–1993) moved the family to the small northwestern Louisiana city of Minden. He graduated in 1954 from Minden High School,[1] where he had run track and played on the all-state football team in 1953. He initially entered Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi, on a football scholarship but then transferred to Northwestern State College (Northwestern State University after June 1970) in Natchitoches, where he met and, in August 1957, married Jean McGlothlin. They both obtained their degrees in 1958, the year he was commissioned an officer in the United States Army, serving six months of active duty and remaining in the U.S. Army Reserve until 1964. He continued his education at NSC where, following his Bachelor of Science in 1958, he received a Master of Science in 1964 and, after a decade as a high school teacher, attended studies for an Ed.D. at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, which he obtained in 1973.

Career as an educator[edit]

His first years in education were spent in the tiny community of Arp in Smith County, Texas, and, back in Louisiana, in another small locality, the town of Iota. Returning to Minden, he was a social studies teacher and football coach at Minden High School, from 1964 to 1974 and subsequently advanced to assistant principal and principal of several Webster Parish schools, including stints at Webster Junior High School from 1974–1976[2] and the former Theresa M. Lowe Junior High School in Minden from 1976 to 1978. In 1979, he was appointed by the Webster Parish School Board as secondary education supervisor, with duties in the central office in Minden. In that capacity, he pushed for the installation of computers in classrooms. He was promoted in 1984 to assistant superintendent under Superintendent Jerry Lott.[3] This was Doerge's terminal position in his educational career of thirty-two years. He retired from the school district upon his election to the legislature.[4]

Two legislative elections[edit]

In the fall of 1974, Doerge was the secretary of the Minden Democratic Central Committee, which organized a dinner to benefit local candidates facing Republican opposition, including the mayoral nominee, J.E. "Pat" Patterson, who thereafter unseated the two-term Republican Tom Colten.[5]

Before his election to the legislature, Doerge was involved in occasional political sparring. He wrote a "Letter to the Editor" of his hometown paper, the Minden Press-Herald, critical of Edward J. Steimel of Baton Rouge, the then executive director of the interest group, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. Doerge accused LABI of seeking to destroy public education. In a reply letter, Steimel described Doerge as "a perfect example of why we can never change our present [educational] system. ...[His] reaction and behavior we have come to expect from many in the educational establishment who are more interested in protecting the status quo and jobs, rather than educating children. ...[6]

Four years later, on November 16, 1991, Doerge was elected to the legislature. It was the same election in which Edwin Washington Edwards, who had served as governor from 1972 to 1980 and from 1984 to 1988, secured his fourth nonconsecutive term by defeating former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke and, also, the day which saw, in the early morning hours, the death, from cancer, of another famed Louisiana political figure, Bill Dodd. Whereas Edwards overwhelmed Duke statewide, Doerge barely unseated the short-term GOP incumbent Eugene Eason of Springhill in northern Webster Parish. A member of the Springhill City Council, Eason was elected on March 27, 1991, to fill the remaining months in the term of former Representative Bruce M. Bolin of Minden, who resigned upon election to a 26th District state judgeship.

Doerge prevailed by 71 votes: 8,389 to Eason's 8,318. Edwards defeated Duke in Webster Parish, 9,024 votes (52 percent) to 8,406 (48 percent). Both Doerge and Eason hence ran behind Duke in raw figures. The discrepancy is that 723 voters who participated in the gubernatorial contest did not vote for either candidate for representative.

In 1995, Doerge was reelected outright in the primary with 8,933 votes (63 percent) of the total ballots over two Republican women, Pamela Hillidge (3,755 ballots – 27 percent) and Helaine George (1,459 votes – 10 percent),[7] later Helaine Barrington of Krum in Denton County, Texas.

Legislative service[edit]

In his first legislative session in 1992, Doerge and his colleagues grappled with a $450 million state budget deficit caused in part by failed insurance companies. He proposed the four-laning of Louisiana Highway 7 from Coushatta to Springhill.[4] Highway 7 was subsequently incorporated into U.S. Route 371, which is four-laned only in a few places.

Early in 1992, Governor Edwin Edwards attended a Doerge fundraiser at the Minden Civic Center, where he called for a state constitutional convention to enact tax reform to correct long-range fiscal problems with the state budget amid what Edwards described as "legislative gridlock".[8]

Having campaigned on educational issues, Doerge worked for higher teacher pay and helped to secure passage of a bill which raised the driving age from fifteen to sixteen and required formal driver's training instruction for young drivers.[9] He backed increased funds for fire protection and industrial expansion, and the construction of the service road along Interstate 20 in Minden.

Doerge was an early supporter of Governor Bill Clinton for the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination. Clinton went on to unseat U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush.[10]

In 1993, Doerge was named "Legislator of the Month" by the Louisiana Municipal Association. As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committees, he had proposed taxing catalogue sales to raise greater revenue for both state and local governments.[11]

Doerge worked with Republican Representative Roy L. Brun of Shreveport to repeal the Louisiana forced heirship law. According to Doerge, "When people work hard to support themselves and their family, they should be able to determine what happens to their estate upon death."[12]

Minden mayor Bill Robertson, a fellow Democrat, cited Doerge's willingness to work tirelessly for special appropriations and grants for his district. George French, administrator of the Minden Medical Center, said that Doerge was largely responsible for obtaining approval from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to approve the Doyline Health Clinic in the southwestern Webster Parish community of Doyline.

At the time of Doerge's death, the Minden Press-Herald's former publisher, David Specht, wrote in an editorial that the lawmaker once told him how surprised he was that so few constituents actually contacted him over any matter. Other legislators, however, such as former State Senator Robert G. "Bob" Jones of Lake Charles, said that constituent demands were so overwhelming that the constant pressure prompted them to leave the legislature.

Doerge also favored the expansion and relocation of Northwest Louisiana Technical College to a new campus on the I-20 service road in Minden, a project underway and brought to fruition by his wife and legislative successor. The new NWLTC campus opened in the summer of 2013. Doerge developed a good working relationship with then state Senator Foster Campbell, whose 36th District includes Webster Parish. In 2007, Campbell, since a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, was a Democratic candidate for governor.

Obituary and honors[edit]

Doerge won Distinguished Service Awards from Civitan International (of which he had been a past president and district governor), the Masonic Lodge, and the Boy Scouts. A Methodist, he was also a member of the Lions Club and past commander of Knights Templar.

The grave of Louisiana State Representative Everett Doerge at Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden

Three weeks before his sixty-third birthday, Everett Doerge died in a Shreveport hospital of complications from a massive heart attack sustained ten days earlier.

In December 1992, he had successfully recovered from heart surgery in Shreveport.[13]

In addition to his wife, Jean, he was survived by a daughter and son-in-law, Sherie and Kevin Lester, and two grandsons. He is interred beside his parents at Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden.

Six months later, Jean Doerge, in the October 20, 2007 nonpartisan blanket primary,[14] retained his District 10 House seat.

Everett Doerge was posthumously honored in 2001, when NSU named a room in his honor in the College of Education.

In 2011, Doerge Landing on Dorcheat Bayou, located east of Springhill on State Highway 157, was named in Doerge's honor. The landing was created after the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development completed a new bridge across the bayou, a part of the Scenic Rivers Program of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.[15]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Minden High School Yearbooks for 1950 through 1955
  2. ^ Minden Press-Herald, September 10, 1974, p. 1
  3. ^ "School board promotes Doerge", Minden Press-Herald, July 17, 1984, p. 1
  4. ^ a b Pat Culverhouse, "Doerge ready for new career", Minden Press-Herald, January 8, 1992, p. 1
  5. ^ Minden Press-Herald, September 5, 1974, p. 1
  6. ^ Edward J. Steimel, "In response to Everett Doerge", Minden Press-Herald, June 7, 1987, p. 2A
  7. ^ Everett Doerge in 1999 entry for Louisiana House of Representatives
  8. ^ Pat Culverhouse, "Edwards pushes convention, calls tax reform "Number One issue" during Doerge benefit dinner", Minden Press-Herald, February 19, 1992, p. 1
  9. ^ "Doerge bill gets approval", Minden Press-Herald, June 9, 1992, p. 1
  10. ^ "Delegate Vote Set Saturday: Webster Democrats will cast ballots at Minden Civic Center", Minden Press-Herald, March 25, 1992, p. 1
  11. ^ "Doerge named LMA 'Legislator of the Month'", Minden Press-Herald, October 21, 1993, p. 1
  12. ^ "Doerge, Brun join heirship forces," Minden Press-Herald, December 16, 1993, p. 1
  13. ^ "Doerge surgery successful", Minden Press-Herald, December 11, 1992, p. 1
  14. ^ Agan, Juanita. "A Profile in Courage" (February 7, 2007 article about Jean Doerge on NWLA {Northwestern Louisiana} News website)
  15. ^ "Doerge Landing dedicated in afternoon ceremony", Springhill Press and News Journal, Vol. 75, No. 17 (April 28, 2011)

References[edit]

  • Doerge death and related events, Shreveport Times, April 18, 19, 21, 24, 1998
  • Smith, Allen J. M. "Doerge dies early today of heart ailment," Minden Press-Herald, April 17, 1998
  • Specht, David, Jr., "Goodbye, Dr. Doerge, you will be missed," Minden Press-Herald, April 17, 1998
  • Louisiana Secretary of State website
Political offices
Preceded by
Eugene S. Eason
Louisiana State Representative from District 10 (Webster Parish)

Everett Gail Doerge
1992–1998

Succeeded by
Jean M. Doerge