By Teresa Ohlrich Johnson
Betty Kyle is a descendant of one of the hardy first families who built and shaped New Braunfels. Five generations later, this mother, educator, and community volunteer is still shaping this community and to recognize her contributions, the Braunfels Foundation Trust has named her a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
Elizabeth Louise Burt was born in New Braunfels and grew up with her sister, Jane, and brother, Shelley, in the 1867 historic home in Comaltown where she lives today.
A 1958 graduate of New Braunfels High School ranked third in her class, Betty was in the Mighty Unicorn Band, a twirler, and on the student council. After graduation, she attended the University of Texas in Austin, graduated with a degree in Home Economics, and began her teaching career at Troy High School outside of Temple.
In 1962, Betty married UT graduate Jack Kyle, and the couple moved to her hometown of New Braunfels with their young son, Scott. Matt, Kathryn, and Jennifer were born in New Braunfels, all reside in New Braunfels, and follow in their mother’s active, community-driven footsteps.
Betty returned to the classroom and for twenty-nine years taught Child Development and Family Living and the Cooperative Career Program at Canyon High School. She also coached cheerleaders and was the Student Council Advisor. During these teaching years, Betty was on the Executive Board and Consultant to the Texas Association of Student Councils and a consultant to the National Association of Student Councils. During her teaching career, Betty was both Canyon High School’s “Teacher of the Year” and New Braunfels Masonic Lodge’s “Outstanding Educator.” In 2001, KENS Channel 5 recognized Betty with the EXCEL Teacher of the Year award. The Texas Association of Student Councils named her their “Advisor of the Year” and she received the “Texas Leadership Consultant Award” Betty retired from teaching in 2002 but quickly found a job as the accountant and manager of son Matt’s law practice.
As a seven-year member of the Braunfels Foundation Trust’s Scholarship Committee, Betty’s experience with and passion for vocational education has certainly helped the committee select students receiving the Trust’s First Step Scholarship for vocational and technical certifications. For the past ten years, Betty has been the vice-chair of the New Braunfels Parks Department Cemetery Committee and assists with the “Soul Searching in the Comal Cemetery” fundraiser and community outreach program. Betty also works with The Headwaters at the Comal project raising funds to protect this legacy for the community. For several years, Betty served on the New Braunfels Arts Council Endowment Committee, and in 1984 Betty chaired the City of New Braunfels’ Water Preservation Board.
The Braunfels Foundation Trust is not the only organization to recognize Betty’s contributions to her community. The New Braunfels Optimist Club gave Betty their “Friend of Youth” honor and the Comal County Extension Service awarded their “Friend of 4H” award. Lamar Elementary School gave her a PTA Lifetime Member selection. The New Braunfels Independent School District awarded their highest volunteer honor, “The Silver Unicorn Award,” and the New Braunfels Independent School District Education Foundation recognized Betty as one of their Distinguished Alumni in 2016.
The New Braunfels Arts Council gave Betty a special award for her “Dedication to the Arts Community” and the “Community Endowment for the Arts” in 2019. The New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce recognized Betty’s community volunteer accomplishments with a place in Honors Hall in 2018.
Betty is a member of First Protestant Church where she has been a board member for nine years. She’s a cancer survivor, a mother, a teacher, a volunteer extraordinaire, and now a Living Legend whose roots are deep in the foundation of New Braunfels.