Brazos County Commissioner Irma Cauley retires but plans to continue serving community
When Irma Cauley was a young girl, she said she found her love of service because of the women in her life who stood up for her to give back.
“Growing up, I had the opportunity to minister with Barbara Jordan in elementary school, junior high school, and high school. [the first African American woman elected to the Texas Senate who later became the first African American woman from the South elected to the U.S. House of Representatives], and that shaped my life,” she recalls. “My mother shaped my life by being a nurse and a single mother; but she knew that we all needed the right to vote and that it shouldn’t cost people to vote. I just try to give back what I received, that’s all.”
Cauley, 72, wanted the public to know that “God is good” Friday afternoon at the Brazos County Government Building during her retirement celebration for the 4th Brazos County Borough Commissioner.
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“It doesn’t need big eyes; Even small eyes can make a big difference,” she said. “For some reason, the need for service touches me deeply. And it’s not in my nature to sit back and see things that need help and not try to do something. And people have to understand that you don’t have to do a lot, just a little.”
Cauley became commissioner for the county in June 2009 following the death of her husband Carey, who had served in the same role at the county since 1994. She was elected to the seat in the 2010 election and re-elected in 2014 and 2018.
Cauley was born in Shreveport, Louisiana and grew up in Houston. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Norfolk State University; and later attended Prairie View University, Texas A&M University, Pfeiffer University, and Wesley Theological Seminary with a certificate in Christian Education.
In 1977 she was executive director of the Girls’ Club of Brazos County. From 1983 to 1991 she was a juvenile parole officer in Brazos County. In 1991 she was appointed to the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. She is a longtime member of the NAACP, the Bethunes Women’s Club and North Bryan’s Community Center.
“Doing everything you can is a big deal, I enjoyed every moment. I want to serve more and plan to continue serving the community. I live here, this is my home,” she said. “I will always encourage people to move to Brazos County and get involved in Brazos County because it makes us all better. When people talk about how much they love Brazos County, Brazos Valley and Texas A&M, it’s because of the people. Little people who do what they do to make things better and I just believe in that.”
Brazos County Judge Duane Peters said he was grateful to have served with both Cauleys and said they were both fantastic commissioners.
“Irma was a great inspector. We didn’t always agree on everything, but we did agree even if we were on different sides at times,” he said. “She will be missed and I’m sure Wanda Watson will be a great commissioner too, but I will miss her.”
After her many years of service, Peters said he knew Cauley was someone to rely on.
“If you needed something from her and asked her for it, she would do it,” he said. “She was always involved in many things.”
Although Cauley is retiring, she is not retiring from public service. Glen Brewer, president of the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce, announced at the party that Cauley will serve on the Chamber’s board of directors for the next several years.
“Nearly 1,700 companies have thrived here thanks to the leadership of Judge Peters and the Commissioner’s Court,” he said. “She will help lead our businesses and our communities together. Thank you for what you have done for us, Irma.”
Cauley was welcomed by many of her family and friends at her retirement party, including several community members: former Assemblyman Bill Flores, College Station Mayor John Nichols, Bryan City Councilman James Edge, District 1 Commissioner Steve Aldrich, and Brazos County District Attorney Jarvis Parsons.
Parsons said Cauley has always been fair and generous to members of the Brazos County Attorney’s Office and thanked her for her service.
“You’re always asking us questions, always ready to pick up the phone with any problem or whatever, and you’ve been a great partner and more importantly, you’ve been a great friend,” he said. “I think that’s one of the things we’re going to miss. We know the next commissioner will be great, but there will never be anyone like you. … We will miss you and your wisdom and wit.”