, Port Arthur, Texas

October 22, 2013

District court judges appoint Jane Birge to replace Lolita Ramos

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

BEAUMONT — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That’s Jane Birge’s philosophy, anyway. On Tuesday, Jefferson County’s district judges unanimously appointed Birge as interim district clerk. Birge spent the past eight years as chief deputy to district clerk Lolita Ramos, who died Oct. 13 .

“Someone asked me what I was going to change, but Lolita was so wonderful at handpicking her office,” Birge said. “This office is a well-oiled machine and practically runs by itself. Nothing is going to change. We don’t need to fix anything.”

Once Ramos’ term expires on Dec. 31, 2014, Birge, 69, said she has no intention of running for the office.

“I want no part of that,” she said. “I told Lolita I would stay with her while she was in office, and then I will retire.”

A native of Jasper, Ind., Birge moved to Texas when she took a freelance position with The Beaumont Enterprise. Eleven years ago, she left the newspaper industry for a job with Jefferson County.

“I was freelancing almost all of that time,” Birge said. “But I was getting to the age where I thought I better start thinking about a real job.”

Birge called her appointment “bittersweet.”

“It’s a very humbling situation to be in,” she said. “We all loved Lolita, respected her — she was a great boss. She was my mentor and my teacher, so I learned from the best.”

And because she learned from the best, Birge was able to assume most of Ramos’ responsibilities over the past year while the longtime district clerk battled cancer. She is confident that she can continue Ramos’ work, although she is adamant that she is not replacing her mentor.

“Nobody can fill Lolita's shoes,” Birge said. “I don’t think of myself as replacing her. I’m just carrying on with her job.”


Twitter: @ErinnPA