Brown leaves office as district clerk; Jones takes oath

STEVE NASH steve.nash@brownwoodbulletin.com

Jan Brown issued what was likely her last directive to her staff as she prepared to step down Monday from her long and distinguished tenure as Brown County district clerk.

Brown didn't want to see any tears at her retirement reception in the courtroom of the 35th District Court, Brown told her staff.

"They have someone who's going to love them just as much as I do," Brown said in a courtroom crowded with well-wishers. "And I haven't seen a tear."

The "someone" to whom Brown referred was Cheryl Jones, who is Brown's successor. District Judge Steve Ellis swore Jones into office at the conclusion of the reception.

Friends, family and colleagues of both Brown and Jones attended the reception, and former public servants including former Brown County Clerk Margaret Wood were also present.

"I've always loved my job," Brown said. "Thirty-two years just pass in the blink of an eye."

Ellis said Brown was "a godsend" when she came to Brown County in 1982 and went to work in the district clerk's office. She was appointed district clerk in 1984 in the midst of a "dark time" for the office, as there had been misappropriation of funds when her predecessor was in office, Ellis said.

Brown went on to serve with integrity and honor, Ellis said. "I don't think it was luck that brought her our way," he said, noting that she'd also served with humor and grace, never taking herself too seriously and welcoming people.

"Her dedication to the public is a mirror of her dedication to her family and her God," Ellis said. "She is a woman of faith."

Brown, a native of Lamesa, began a career in county government in 1968. 

She announced last year that she would not seek re-election in 2014, and Jones finished first in the Brown County Republican Party Primary in March, and later won a runoff election over second-place finisher Brenda Arp.

Brown announced earlier this year she would step down at the end of June for health reasons. Ellis said he intended to appoint Jones, who does not have a Democratic challenger in the November general election, to the office.

Jones will be keeping "the great team assembled" that Brown had put together in the district clerk's office, Ellis said.

Jones has worked for about 4 1/2 years as assistant court coordinator in Ellis' office, and Ellis said it's "bittersweet" to see Jones leave his office and become district clerk.

"It's a privilege and an honor to follow in Jan's footsteps," Jones said. "I am honored now to be part of the 'A' team."

Jones grew up in Houston and has lived in Brown County for nearly 27 years. She said she'll assist in the transition to a new assistant court coordinator in Ellis' office.

After Ellis swore in Jones, he called all of the deputy clerks on what is now Jones' staff to come forward and be sworn into new terms.