Judge James Carlow retires
Longtime Bowie County Judge James Carlow announced his retirement Monday morning at a regular session of the Bowie County Commissioners Court, culminating a career of service to the county that has spanned four decades. His last day in office will be September 30, 2019.
Judge James Carlow has been a catalyst for growth and change in Bowie County and can be credited for many of the things we take for granted here.
His most recent years of service have seen the county recover from a devastating financial crisis brought on by a previous administration, and his tireless efforts to make Bowie County financially stable have not gone unrewarded. At present, the county has a $15 million fund balance.
He and the commissioners achieved this fund balance and the financial recovery, all the while lowering the tax rate.
His friend, David Meadows states, “A great friend, business partner, and County Judge. A man of his word, honest and principled. He has always been that way, before he was County Judge, and to this day the same. He cared deeply for Bowie County and its citizens and always went above and beyond the call of duty. He would spend countless extra hours to be sure the county’s interest was at the forefront in every situation and opportunity. Whatever was thrown at him, he accepted and took care of business. The county today is in great financial condition because of his prudent business skills and desire to bring the county to the highest level of financial responsibility. He will be sorely missed in the halls of Bowie County.”
Judge Carlow serves tirelessly on numerous boards and lends his hands to projects across the county, and across the state. His efforts include work on the I-69 project and the Highway 82 widening project, a project that he was able to refinance the bonds on improving the county’s bond rating and saving $9.5 million.
In 2013, Judge Carlow had seen enough of the dismal state of Bowie County’s finances under then Judge Sterling Lacy, and it was then that he set himself on a course that would right that ship and get the county to the sound financial status that it owns today.
After a resounding defeat of Jeff Akin in the primary, Carlow then trounced Lacy in the 2014 general election in November and took his office back on January 1, 2015.
On that election night in November of 2014, Judge Carlow told his followers, “Today is a victory for the citizens of Bowie County. We all share in this win. It’s a sign of good things to come, a sign that the vast majority of people in Bowie County, despite individual differences, want what’s best for our community, now and for the next generation. Moving forward, we need to continue to work together and stop the costly and destructive political game playing at the courthouse. By working together in good faith, we can chart a path that puts Bowie County back on track. Let’s all get to work.”
And go to work he did.
His diligent and unending efforts to improve the local economy, bring in jobs and improve the county’s infrastructure have been and forever will be his legacy.
In the announcement Monday morning, Carlow stated, “We are where we wanted to be when I came back and I appreciate the support I have enjoyed from the commissioners, elected officials and my family.”
A press release following the announcement reads, “All of this could not have been possible without the support of family and friends. They have always believed in my commitment to always do the best job possible with the resources available. My strongest supporter has been my wife Nancy. Her love and support as my wife have kept me on track during this journey. From going to cold weather chili suppers to working the hot weather political booth at New Boston Pioneer Days. She has been my number one supporter.”
One of those friends is State Representative Gary VanDeaver.
VanDeaver stated on hearing the announcement, “Judge Carlow’s positive impact on Bowie County will be felt for generations. His commitment to improving life for the citizens of Bowie County through better infrastructure, transportation, and economic development is an inspiration to all who serve. Respect for his work does not stop at the county line, but can be observed in Austin as well as Washington. He is leaving the county well positioned for continued success, but I believe most agree that it will not be possible to completely fill his shoes. I wish him the best as he moves to the next phase of life.”
Yet another political supporter of the judge and Bowie County is Congressman John Ratcliffe.
The congressman states about the service of Judge Carlow, ““In his three decades of dedicated service to Bowie County, Judge Carlow made a distinct mark on his community. As a Bowie County native, he possesses an intimate understanding of the top priorities of the people he serves, which will allow him to leave behind a distinguished and longstanding legacy. I’d like to join the entire Bowie County community in expressing our gratitude for the great impact Judge Carlow made throughout his career, as he prepares to enter into his well-earned retirement in the coming weeks.”
Judge Carlow’s love for the county is only surpassed by his love for family, and those sentiments go both ways.
His son Brad states, “Our family is extremely proud of Dad and all that he has accomplished as County Judge. He truly loved the job and genuinely cared for the citizens of Bowie County. I really thought it would take several years to turn the county’s finances around after his absence, but he was able to get it done in less than a year. Pretty impressive! The county will have a hard time filling his shoes.”
Granddaughter Shelby Stephens says of her grandfather, “My grandaddy is one of the hardest working and committed men I know. I have always looked up to him as he has graciously received both positive and negative comments showing nothing but humility and kindness in return. He has generously dedicated most of his life to the place we call home, determined to make Bowie County thrive. I hope to follow in his footsteps through renovating our great city of New Boston. I am so thankful to call the judge my grandaddy.”
His retirement announcement ends with, “It is now time for new leadership to step forward. The groundwork is there for continued success in our local government. They must be ready to make those tough decisions, and to realize yes is not always the answer. If local officials continue to work together, we can achieve the future goals of Bowie County and keep our children and our grandchildren here in Bowie County so they can enjoy everything this county has to offer.”
The love from his family doesn’t end there.
Granddaughter Taylor states, “A great man but a rare politician, one who prioritized the good of the county and the people over party lines.
A realist with a good sense of humor and always looked for the positive in any situation.”
Grandson Mason says of his granddaddy, “For all of my life he has been Judge Carlow to everyone but to me he is my Grandaddy. I am very proud, I have learned so much from him and I know there is still a lot he has to teach me. He has done a lot for our family and I know for Bowie County. I love him and love spending time with him and I am excited to have him come home and just be my Grandaddy.”
Sports reporter and granddaughter Malori also has high praise for her granddaddy, saying, “Perched beside my granddaddy’s chair in a courtroom with a yellow legal pad, too massive for me to carry, gazing up at him trying to jot down every word that flowed out of his mouth…. Those are the memories I have with my grandfather. My entire life I have known him as Judge Carlow. I have seen the effect he has had on people’s lives in Bowie County. He is loved by many and will be missed by many that is for certain. I can not sit here and try to comprehend everything he has done from a political standpoint because for most of his career I was simply a child. His grandchild. I know him as my grandaddy who sacrificed his mornings taking me to school on his way to work every morning until the day I took my drivers test. I want him to know how much he is loved and how proud I am to call him my grandaddy.”
Ashley Carlow says of her father-in-law, “I have considered Marion a role model since my family moved to Maud in the early 80’s. He shares many of the same qualities that my dad had such as honesty, integrity, and intelligence.
He and Nancy are so proud of their grandkids! That warms my heart. I’m excited that they will have time to spend doing things that they enjoy and finding some new adventures in the future.”
Hooks ISD teacher Melinda Carlow cites, “I have been very blessed to be a part of this family for almost 25 years now. I can say that without a doubt my Father in Law loves this county and has done so much to do all he can to take care of the citizens here. I am so proud of all that he has accomplished for Bowie County during his time as County Judge. What most don’t get to see at times is the special bond that he has with his children and grandchildren and I know that he is looking forward to spending lots of time with all of us. We are all so proud of him both professionally and personally and are excited for him as he closes this bittersweet chapter.
Grandson Triston Carlow states, “At first glance, you see a man that has never taken a day off in his life because he is someone that cannot sit still while there are things that need to be done. He is the hardest working man that I know. He has dedicated his life for the betterment of this county and he has absolutely left it better off than when he got here. Once you get the privilege to spend time with Granddaddy, though, you will see a caring man that would do anything in his power to help the people around him. I have seen both sides of granddaddy. From seeing him work tirelessly at the courthouse, to him taking off to take Malori and me on a field trip around Bowie and Cass County showing us where our ancestors came from, I have been very lucky to see firsthand what it takes to prosper as a businessman, as well as a family man. Though your stint as the county judge has come to an end, I can speak for everyone in this county by saying you will always be our Judge. As for myself, I am so thankful to be able to call you Granddaddy.”
Grandson Briley Barron said, “Granddaddy is a great man! He’s worked hard his entire life making this county and state a better place to life in. I’m excited for him because he can now relax, check on his cows, and come watch me play some football and basketball.”
The family sentiments and those of so many in Bowie County are summed up by son Blake, who states, “Dad is a great man whether it be in politics, business or family. He is a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. We look up to him for his guidance in business and our personal lives. His hard work and dedication to the county has been seen by many. We appreciate everything he has done for the county and for us personally.”