Jean Parker has seen many changes in her 23 year tenure with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office — working under three different sheriffs and in the process transferring from being their secretary to the purchasing department.

That phase of her life will end on March 30 when she retires from the department and begins a new chapter in her life.

“I was hired by Huel Fontenot in 1989 as his secretary. I didn’t have a clue (on police matters). I didn’t know what a reserve deputy was.”

She worked for Fontenot for eight years until he lost the election to Mike White. White kept her in his office, but brought her in on the side to do budgets while his own secretary did the clerical work. Keith Merritt, likewise, kept her around when he became sheriff in 2008.

“He (White) did me a favor because all of this (transferring to the purchasing department),” Parker said.

She issues out and inventories equipment in the purchasing office.

She said sometimes employees get a little nervous when a new sheriff is elected because they may bring in their staff and the current employees may be out of work.

Parker worked as a bookkeeper at W. M. Border before she was laid off. She was lifelong friends with Mary Fontenot, Huel’s wife, who got her foot in the door.

“The salary wasn’t very big but I liked the retirement statement,” she said.

She said another factor in determining to retire now was when she suffered a heart attack on October 9, 2011 and she had to be resuscitated.

Though she won’t be coming to work everyday, she still will come back occasionally to help out with federal drug fund accounts.

“It’s been exciting. Orange County is probably one of the best places to work or live,” Parker said. “I love it here. I love the people and I like working with numbers. Everyday is something new.”