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Longtime county worker to retire after 40 years (w/video)

By Jessica Priest
March 21, 2014 at 7:03 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2014 at 10:21 p.m.

"It's been such a wonderful joy to work here for all these years," Emily Means said of her 40 years as a civil court coordinator at the Victoria County Courthouse. She said she has home projects and a few trips planned to fill her retirement.

Faces came and went.

The annex near the downtown Victoria courthouse was once owned by Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. and now accommodates offices for the district attorney, probation and the tax-assessor collector.

The second and third stories of the historic courthouse next door, once used for storage, were given a new life.

But Emily Means has, for the bulk of her 40-year career with the county, remained in a small, windowless office.

"Everyone says, 'How can you stand it?' Well, I'm not claustrophobic. If you were, then you probably couldn't stand it in here. But it's just a real handy spot," she said, smiling.

Means is the civil court coordinator, responsible for scheduling court dates, adhering to strict deadlines and sending out notices.

She's retiring March 31 and taking a mirror that hangs beside her desk that looks like the window she never had with her.

The attorneys, judges, clerks and court reporters she's been sandwiched between all these years have vowed to throw her at least four parties before then. They don't know what they'll do without her.

Judge Jack Marr stopped by Wednesday to tell her so, leaning over her half door to hand her some paperwork to mail.

"You realize that the entire court system is going to fail because of your absence," he said.

"Oh, I'm sure you'll find a way," Means replied, chuckling.

Means, 71, plans to tackle some home improvement projects, volunteer and spend more time with her two children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She'll travel, too.

"It's been a great journey, and I've enjoyed it. It's had its stressful moments many times, but overall, every job has that. The people that I have worked with have been really great," Means said. "I'll be back to visit. They all told me I could."

How has working for the county changed over the years?

There were no computers, so everything was done by hand, and actually - to show you how old I am - I still keep my docket book. I do it in the computer, too, but this is like a backup in case I miss a case or something. I can compare. The judges like to come in and look at the book to see what their docket looks like for the following day. I always tease them and say, "You're going to have to do it anyway. You might as well just not look."

Who was your favorite judge?

My favorite was Judge Clarence Stevenson. He'd come and sit down and say, "Oh, I just got to get away from that phone and away from that desk." We'd visit for a while, and then he'd say, "OK. Tell me to go back to work." He was just easy to talk with, and he died too soon. He had a lung issue. Mary Ann Rivera was with him in Edna when he got sick. He was sick when he went there for a jury trial, but he wouldn't let somebody else fill in for him. He said, "No, I can do it. I can finish it," but he couldn't. Mary Ann flew back to the hospital. She always has felt she just didn't do enough, like she could've driven faster. But he kept telling her, "Slow down. Slow down. It's OK." ... There was just something about him that I really cared about a lot.

What advice do you have for your successor?

My main concern is that it will need to be someone that just has some common sense about things and gets along with different personalities. ... There will be phone calls sometimes where people will be a little abrupt. You just have to kind of not get abrupt on your side because you have to get whatever they're wanting done regardless of how their attitude is.



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