Carl Thibodeaux officially completed his 18th year as Orange County judge on Dec. 31, 2012.

A native of Mamou, La., he is by trade a pharmacist but has served the community for over 25 years. He graduated from the University of Houston in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and owned a pharmacy in West Orange for 21 years.  He was elected to the county judge seat in 1994 (officially taking office in 1995), but previously served eight years as the mayor of West Orange.

Thibodeaux has seen his fair share of ups and downs, the worst being the devastation of Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008. He was named the 2005-2006 Person of the Year by The Record Newspapers for his relentless work to bring the county back to working order after Rita. He was also named the 2009 Newsmaker of Year by the Press Club of Southeast Texas, along with Bridge City Mayor Kirk Roccaforte and former Bridge City ISD Superintendent Jamie Harrison. The trio worked countless hours to help the citizens of Bridge City recover from Hurricane Ike.

Other awards include the Frances K. Monk Award for Regional Leadership by the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission (SETRPC) in 2007 and the Helping Hands Award from the Foster Grandparent Program in 2004.

Thibodeaux has served as president of the SETRPC Executive Committee, vice-president of the Area Emissions Reduction Credit Organization and vice-present of the Southeast Texas Development District.

On Oct. 15, 2009, the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce chose Thibodeaux to be roasted by family and close friends.

Roccaforte said Thibodeaux’s golf game was like his angling efforts. “The last time he went fishing, the first cast he made didn’t even hit the water.”

Thibodeaux’s son Tyler told audience members how his dad, a native of Mamou, La., where Cajun French is prevalent, couldn’t speak English until the first grade. “Sometimes I think you still can’t speak English,” Tyler said.

“When I found out I was going to be roasted,” Thibodeaux said, “I figured, ‘No problem. My wife’s been roasting me for 44 years.’”

Thibodeaux has been the longest sitting judge in Orange County History.

“I’ve been here 18 years and have loved every minute of it,” Thibodeaux said.

This last Commissioners’ Court meeting was particularly hard because Pct. 3 Commissioner John Dubose said his goodbyes to the Court after 12 years of service. “I hate to see John go. I always wonder how my reaction is going to be at my last commissioners’ court,” he said.

As for plans for the future, the judge plans to stay the course.

“I plan to stay as long as my health holds out, it’s still enjoyable and the citizens of Orange County allow me to continue,” he said. “Those three things have to all fall into place for me to continue. I’ve got re-election coming up two years from now and, at this time, I plan to run again.”

Judge Carl Thibodeaux is pictured with Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt

About Nicole Gibbs

Editor of The Record Newspapers