Category Archives: Living Legends

Betty Kyle

Betty Kyle

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. 

Living Legend Recipients

Marian Benson

Our beautiful city was founded by a German prince whose betrothed back in Germany never set foot on Texas soil.  It is said that Princess Sophie feared not being a princess in newly-settled Neu Braunfels and so stayed home.  If only Princess Sophie had known what Marian Benson knows:  an extraordinary volunteer resume and some hard work can get one named a princess in New Braunfels.  Marian Benson was named a Princess of the City of New Braunfels not once, but twice, for her devotion and many contributions, and now The Braunfels Foundation Trust names her a Living Legend.

Marian was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, while her father was serving in the Air Force.  Marian’s mother was very involved not only in their church but also in the schools and activities of her four children and passed the “volunteer gene” down to her daughter, Marian.  The family then lived in Denton, the hometown of Marian’s father, and in 1954 moved to Austin where Marian graduated from McCallum High School.  After graduation, Marian attended Trinity University and then landed a job as a flight attendant with Braniff Airlines in Dallas.

Marian met her late husband, Howard, during this time, and the couple began their married life in Dallas later welcoming daughter Debbie and son Chris.  While in Dallas, Marian was very involved in her church, but her first real volunteer “job” was as reader for Recording for the Blind at the University of Georgia.  The Bensons moved to Georgia so Howard could complete his doctorate in Political Science, and following his graduation in 1973, they relocated to New Braunfels when Howard began teaching political science and law enforcement at Southwest Texas State University – now Texas State University – in San Marcos.

In 1983, with the experience gained at the Dallas Apparel Mart, Marian opened a ladies clothing boutique and her thirty-year love affair with downtown New Braunfels began.  She owned and operated “The Collection” for twenty-eight years in downtown New Braunfels and was active in much of its revitalization because of her association with both the New Braunfels Downtown Association and the New Braunfels Mainstreet Association.  Marian helped establish and guide many of the Festtage celebration events, such as the Plaza Tree Lighting and Wassilfest.  She was a member and past president of the New Braunfels Downtown Association and on the board of the Texas Mainstreet Association.  Marian co-chaired the City’s Bandstand Restoration Project via the New Braunfels Mainstreet Partners, a non-profit on whose board she still serves and created to perpetuate the restoration of downtown.  She served on the Civic Center Renovation Advisory Committee and is the past chair of the Downtown Implementation Committee.  Marian also served as a board member and chair of the Texas Retailers Association who named her their “Downtowner of the Year” in 1989.

Marian earned her Bluecoat, and in 1999 and a life membership with the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce.  She served as Chair of the Board of the Chamber and received not only their Chair of the Board Award for Economic Development, but also the Besserung Award – or outstanding citizen award — in 2005.  The Chamber named her “Small Business Person of the Year” in 1991, recognized her in the Hall of Honors, and bestowed the Princess of the City of New Braunfels recognition.  Marian currently serves on the Chamber’s Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Committee.

Marian is past president of the New Braunfels Rotary club, past board member of the Sophienburg Museum and Archives and the Christus Santa Rosa Foundation, and a volunteer with the SOS Food Bank.  She’s been on the church choir and served as an elder at her church, New Braunfels Presbyterian.

Marian is currently serving on the boards of the New Braunfels Housing Authority and the New Braunfels Area Community Foundation where is a founding member.  She serves on the Chamber’s Texas Legislative Conference Arrangements Committee, is a volunteer driver for Family Promise, a Braunfels Foundation Trust baroness, and is the co-chair on the Sophienburg Museum’s Weihnachtsmarkt Vendor Committee.

The Braunfels Foundation Trust is delighted for the opportunity to bestow another title on our baroness and princess – a Living Legend of New Braunfels

2015 Living Legends


Living Legends 2015

Carter Casteel, Carl Feltner and Carol(Bucky) Warwick Smith

New Braunfels, Texas, August 18, 2015:   The Braunfels Foundation Trust announced, during the Baron and Baroness quarterly social held at McAdoo’s Seafood,  the selection of Carter Casteel, Carl Feltner and Carole “Bucky” Smith as “Living Legends of New Braunfels.”  The “Living Legend” program honors individuals from New Braunfels whose extraordinary service, involvement, and contributions have made New Braunfels this wonderful and most unique place in which to live.

Casteel, Feltner and Smith are the 11th class of Living Legends, and they join a celebrated group of community leaders.  They will be honored at a recognition reception on October 6, 2015, at the New Braunfels Convention and Center Civic.  Tickets for the event will go on sale on August 18.

The Braunfels Foundation Trust was founded after the community of Braunfels, Germany, presented a monetary gift of $1,500 of support following the devastating flood of 1972.

Proceeds from the 11th annual event will benefit programs to support vocational and technical training and continued education in Comal and Guadalupe County through scholarship programs for graduating high school seniors.  The Braunfels Foundation Trust also provides facilities for Communities in Schools of South Central Texas.


On-line tickets to the event on October 6, 2015