Everett Gail Doerge (May 6, 1935 - April 17, 1998) was a 30-year educator and a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, having served from 1992 until his death in office. He was succeeded in his District 10 (Webster Parish seat by his widow Jean M. Doerge of Minden, who is a candidate for a third full term in the October 20, 2007, jungle primary.
Doerge (pronounced DURR GHEE) was born in Port Arthur, in far southeastern Texas, to George G. Doerge (1901-1976) and Jewel M. Doerge (1907-1993). The family moved to Minden in 1943. Doerge graduated from Minden High School in 1954, where he had run track and played on the all-state football team in 1953. He first entered Mississippi State University in Starkville on a football scholarship but then transferred to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, where he met the former Jean McGlothlin. He obtained his bachelor of science and master of science degrees from NSU in 1958 and 1964, respectively. He obtained an Ed.D. in 1973 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
His first years in education were spent in tiny Arp, Texas (Smith County) and Iota, Louisiana. He was a social studies teacher and football coach at Minden High School, from 1964-1974. Then he became an assistant principal and principal of several Webster Parish schools, including a stint at the former Theresa M. Lowe Middle School in Minden from 1976-1978. In 1979, he was appointed by the Webster Parish School Board as secondary education supervisor, with duties in the central office in Minden. In that capacity, he pushed for the installation of computers in classrooms. He was promoted in 1984 to assistant superintendent, his terminal position in his three-decade educational career. He retired from the school district upon his election to the legislature.
Doerge was elected to the legislature on November 16, 1991, on the day that former Governor Edwin Washington Edwards secured his fourth nonconsecutive term by defeating former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke. Former State Education Superintendent Bill Dodd died in the early morning hours of that same election day too. Whereas Edwards overwhelmed Duke statewide, Doerge barely unseated the short-term Republican incumbent Eugene S. Eason (1928-2007) of Springhill in northern Webster Parish. Eason, a former member of the Springhill City Council, had been elected on March 27, 1991, to fill the remaining months in the term of former State Representative Bruce M. Bolin of Minden, who resigned to become a judge.
Doerge prevailed by 71 votes: 8,389 (50 percent) to Eason's 8,318 (also 50 percent). Edwards defeated Duke in Webster Parish, 9,024 votes (52 percent) to 8,406 (48 percent). Both Doerge and Eason hence ran behind Duke in raw figures. The discrepancy is that 723 voters who participated in the gubernatorial contest did not vote for either candidate for representative.
In 1995, Doerge was reelected outright in the primary with 8,933 votes (63 percent) of the total ballots over two Republican women, Pamela Hillidge (3,755 ballots - 27 percent) and Helaine George (1,459 votes - 10 percent).
Having campaigned on educational issues, Doerge worked for higher teacher pay. He helped to secure passage of a bill which raised the driving age from fifteen to sixteen. He backed increased funds for fire protection and industrial expansion, the construction of a service road along Interstate 20 in Minden, and improvements, including partial four-laning, to Louisiana Highway 371.
Minden Mayor Bill Robertson, a fellow Democrat, cited Doerge's willingness to work tirelessly for special appropriations and grants for his district. George French, administrator of the Minden Medical Center, said that Doerge was largely responsible for obtaining approval from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to approve the Doyline Health Clinic in Doyline, a community in southwestern Webster Parish.
David Specht, a former publisher of the Minden Press-Herald, wrote in an editorial at the time of Doerge's death that the lawmaker once told him how surprised he was that so few constituents actually contacted him over any matter. Other legislators, such as former State Representative and State Senator Robert G. "Bob" Jones of Lake Charles, however, said that constitutent demands were so overwhelming that the constant pressure caused them to leave the legislature.
Doerge also favored the expansion and relocation of Northwest Louisiana Technical College to a new campus on the I-20 service road in Minden. He developed a good working relationship with state Senator Foster L. Campbell, Jr., whose 36th District includes Webster Parish. In 2007, Campbell, a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, was a Democratic candidate for governor.
Doerge won Distinguished Service Awards from Civitan International (of which he had been a past president and district governor), the Masonic Lodge, and the Boy Scouts. He was also a member of the Lions Club and past commander of Knights Templar. Doerge was Methodist.
Doerge died in a Shreveport hospital of complications of a massive heart attack sustained ten days earlier. In addition to his wife, he was survived by a daughter and son-in-law, Sherie and Kevin Lester, and two grandsons. He is interred beside his parents in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Minden.
Doerge was posthumously honored in 2001, when NSU named a room in his honor in the College of Education.
Eugene S. Eason
Louisiana State Representative from District 10 (Webster Parish)
Everett Gail Doerge
Jean M. Doerge
Doerge death and related events, Shreveport Times, April 18, 19, 21, 24, 1998
Allen J.M. Smith, "Doerge dies early today of heart ailment," Minden Press-Herald, April 17, 1998
David Specht, Jr., "Goodbye, Dr. Doerge, you will be missed," Minden Press-Herald, April 17, 1998