Garcia clocks out as clerk

Ruby Garcia sits in the district courtroom chair where she served as Refugio County District Clerk for the past 39 years. She has announced her retirement as of April 30. (Photo by Tim Delaney)

District Clerk Ruby Garcia shuddered with fear as she watched Jerry Nutt, who had positioned himself in the front row of the courtroom, glare at the capital murder suspects in court.

She said it was the scariest moment in her 39-year career as Refugio County District Clerk. Jerry Nutt’s family ­– wife Betsy and son Cody Nutt – had been murdered in North Refugio County in 1997, and the suspects were in court facing capital murder charges.

Garcia said she was worried the distraught husband would jump the rail and shoot or try to kill the suspects. But he restrained himself.

Later, the suspects were given the death penalty.

“That’s the one I remember the most because it lasted so long,” Garcia said.

Garcia, now 66, announced she was retiring as of Friday, April 30.

She said she began her career in the district clerk’s office as a chief deputy on April 26, 1982, when Mary Lou English held the position.

When English retired, Garcia was appointed to the position, and then she ran unopposed in 1990, officially taking the position on Jan. 1, 1991 at the young age of 35. She was the first Hispanic woman to hold the office. She has run unopposed during her tenure for eight terms.

Part of her success is that she insists on her staff having fun.

“We try to come on the office every morning and greet each other. The office personnel while working still manage to have fun,” Garcia said.

“I will miss the camaraderie,” she added.

Outside her office, others said they also will miss Garcia.

“She has been an excellent district clerk. She is the last of the original six when I took office in January 1996,” said District Judge Kemper Stephen Williams of the 135th District Court, serving Refugio, Goliad, Calhoun, Victoria, Jackson and DeWitt counties.

“She will be missed,” Williams added.

Williams said he plans to attend a celebration for Garcia at the Refugio County Courthouse between 2 and 4 p.m. April 30.

Joining Williams was District Judge Jack Marr of the 24th District Court, serving the same six counties.

“I’ve know Ruby since I was elected district judge in Victoria eight years ago,” Marr said.

Marr said he knew Garcia as a young lawyer.

“She was service oriented and took great pride in her office,” Marr said. “She will be terribly missed,” he added.

Marr and Williams confirmed that Sylvia Lopez, Refugio County Chief Deputy in the district clerk’s office, will be appointed to fill Garcia’s eighth term.

Garcia praised Lopez and said she will be a great district clerk.

Lopez will have to run for the office in the upcoming November election.

Garcia said she and her husband George will celebrate their 50th anniversary on Jan 16, 2022.

The Garcias have been to New York, Hawaii, on cruises, but she plans on staying home after retiring.

“I want to work on the yard, read and spend time with George and my family,” she said. George retired Feb. 4 from Hill Corps.

Her son Russell, who works at TC Oil Company, LLC, is married to Rachael Garcia, her daughter-in-law. Rachael is the Refugio County Elections Administrator.

Her daughter Stacy Garcia is a teacher/coach at Del Valle High School in Austin.

Garcia attended Refugio High School and was graduated in 1973. She was a cheerleader in high school.

Garcia said she has abided by her own personal philosophy: “If you help people, they’re less apt to say negative things about you. It makes our lives and everybody’s lives easier,” she said.

“I appreciate that the voters have given me a vote of confidence to have served as district clerk,” she said.

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