He made his name as one of LSU’s legendary “Chinese Bandits” and his career as one of the longest-serving clerks of court in Louisiana.
And now, Kermit “Hart” Bourque has resigned from the Ascension Parish Clerk of Court’s Office after nearly 51 years.
Bourque, 77, resigned effective Saturday for health reasons.
“I’m going to miss my job. I loved my work, I loved the job I had,” Bourque said Monday.
“It was hard to leave,” said Bourque, who was first elected to the position in March 1964.
Until the Oct. 24 special election to fill Bourque’s unexpired term, which ends June 30, 2016, the office’s chief deputy, Bridget Hanna, will fill the role of interim clerk of court. She will be sworn into office on Tuesday.
Hanna, who has worked in the Clerk of Court’s Office for 31 years and has been chief deputy for the past 11 years, said of Bourque: “He served the public well. He has a wonderful reputation in the parish.”
Bourque also is beloved by LSU fans as one of the Chinese Bandits defensive platoon on the Tigers team that was unranked in preseaon but went on to win the National Championship in 1958 under coach Paul Dietzel. At 5 feet 8 inches and 165 pounds, Bourque played cornerback.
“He ran a tight ship,” state Rep. Johnny Berthelot, R-Gonzales, said of Bourque’s tenure as clerk of court. “He ran one of the best clerk of court offices in the state.”
“He’s been a mentor to me for many, many years,” said Berthelot, who also served as mayor of Gonzales for five terms. “He’s just the type of guy you want to grow up to be like.”
Bourque made additions to the clerk’s offices in the courthouses in Donaldsonville and in Gonzales and built a free-standing location in Gonzales, Hanna said.
The construction was paid for through the clerk of court’s budget, which is funded by fees for mortgage and conveyance records and for traffic, civil and criminal records. Typically, such construction is paid for by parish government.
“To have the privilege of serving alongside Hart Bourque for many years is a blessing I will forever treasure,” Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said. “He is the epitome of a true servant of the public and a mentor and great friend.”
Bourque, who earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts education in 1961 from LSU, began his career in public service when he was elected to the Ascension Parish School Board the same year he graduated from college, according to his biography at the clerk of court’s website, ascensionclerk.com.
Last year, the state legislature honored Bourque with a resolution commending him for his more than 50 years of distinguished public service.