After nearly 40 years, courthouse workers step away
Brenda Folse and Rhonda Landry were hired at the same time to work in the St. Charles Parish Clerk of Courts Office a little more than 37 years ago. It seems only fitting they’d walk away at the same time as well.
Folse and Landry recently each celebrated their last day of work at the Clerk’s office, with coworkers —who are, as they describe them, their friends and family — bidding them a fond farewell as they stepped away and into retirement.
“It’s gonna be hard,” Folse said on her final day, just a few hours before she was to depart the courthouse for the final time in a career capacity. “We’ve all had so many come and go over the years. I think we’ll stay in touch (with coworkers). Everyone says it, but I really believe it.”
The two have been intertwined throughout their careers and lives.
Folse and Landry attended Luling Elementary together, then Carver Elementary and then Hahnville High School. The two almost share birthdays, even: Landry Dec. 18 and Folse on Dec. 26. Each sought a job after graduating from Hahnville and — sure enough — each found one at the same place.
“We grew here, together,” Folse said. “A lot of us did, really. I made some great friends here, and I knew some of them before, like Rhonda.”
Added Landry, “It makes it easier to work somewhere when you have family around. Everyone here has family, kids, grand kids … you get to know everyone and their families. Even if you didn’t meet them, you feel like you do because it’s what we talk about.”
Folse echoed this feeling of family.
“We’ve been through happy times, sad times … if someone was hurting for some reason, everybody hurt,” Folse said. “I think it was just the people. All of us women, and everyone just clicked together.”
Both work at the Mortgage and Conveyance Department of the Clerk of Court, along with co-worker Betty Burleson — who herself is set to leave after a long tenure. Burleson has worked at the Clerk’s Office for 17 years, though there was a near 20 year gap between two tenures. She worked there from 1982 to 1988 and then returned in 2007.
Burleson’s last day won’t be until February, but for now, the departure of her two close colleagues has made the bigger impact.
“We’ve been together since I came back. I’m emotional about them leaving, more than me leaving,” Burleson said. Clerk of Court Lance Marino said he’ll miss having all three around the office greatly.
“These three employees, represent nearly 100 years experience,” Marino said. “ I’m in my second term as clerk and I was blessed to have the 3 of them stay here through my first term. They know the processes at the courthouse, they know the people, the attorneys, the notaries, the title companies and a lot of the constituent. They’ve probably got a lot more knowledge to pass on than anyone realized before you dig into it.”
He, too, came back to the idea of family.
“These ladies are a family, as you might imagine, having been together for so long,” he said. “Our Family has grown and changed over past few years. These ladies welcome new arrivals and gave their all training new people. We’re going to miss them as part of our family. I surely hate to see them go but I wish them well in their retirement and blessed to start retirement at young age.”
What Folse called bittersweet, Landry characterized as nervous excitement.
“It’s a new chapter in life,” she said. “My husband has been retired for nine years. We have family that’s away, grand kids who are away … whatever we think of that we want to do, we’ll just do it.”