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41 Years, But Who's Counting

LaMATS congratulates longtime Farmerville Clerk and stalwart board member, Gay Nell Pepper, CMC, on her recent 35th Anniversary recognition as a member and former President of the Louisiana Municipal Clerks Association.

“Thirty five years as Clerk,” she clarifies. “I’ve been with Farmerville forty one years!”


That level of dedication has been a hallmark of Pepper’s career in public service. Starting while still a junior at what is now ULM, Pepper answered a call from then-Mayor Jimmy Long to assist at City Hall between semesters. And now, six mayors later, “I’m still here!”


Receiving the recognition of her peers in the LCMA was an honor, but Gay Nell Pepper puts the work of a dedicated clerk in perspective. “It just goes to show that we can do it,” she observed. “And it's not that hard. Especially with good mayors and good councils.”

Not that hard? How about the time she hosted an international meeting of municipal clerks in New Orleans, 2007, as the city was still recovering from Hurricane Katrina? “That was a challenge,” she admits. But one of the qualities she admires in her clerk colleagues is that they stick together and help each other out. Pepper commends fellow clerks in Texas and other states who sent funds and materials to assist with the difficult local conditions. “They knew we didn't have people to lean on down there,” she said.


So, helping others has become a regular part of Pepper’s process. “I always go early [to LMCA conventions],” she explained, “just so I can introduce myself and talk to the new clerks; just talk to them and say, ‘Hey, here's my card. Call me if you have any questions.' Networking is how we learn everything.”


Pepper cites the mentoring and inspiration she received early in her career from seasoned clerks like “Mutt” Shade and Bill Mulkey, and a little helpful “tough love” from the first mayor she served as a full-time clerk, Carlton White. “If there was a class, or anywhere I could go to learn, Mayor White made me go. And I had a two-year-old! I didn't like it,” she remembers - although now with gratitude. “I didn't want to go. But I learned a lot.”


Forty one years of learning, teaching, and serving would make a satisfying career for anyone. “If I retire tomorrow,” muses Pepper, “I will have been part of a great family.” Not that she’s ready to leave! “The biggest reason I don’t retire is that I like being a part of helping my community grow. And Farmerville is growing!”


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