Jan Kennady

 

A broken leg and a trip to the emergency room in 1977 might have been one of the luckiest “breaks” in Jan Kennady’s life.  It was certainly a lucky break for New Braunfels, because we gained a volunteer extraordinaire, a mayor, a county commissioner, a preservationist, and a Living Legend of New Braunfels.

During a family football game at Canyon Lake, Jan broke her leg and met Dr. Donald Kennady, the on-call doctor, at McKenna Hospital.  After a long distance romance, the two married and Jan moved from Houston to make New Braunfels her new home.  She briefly worked part-time at New Braunfels Presbyterian Church but resigned when her job schedule began to interfere with her volunteer commitments!

Jan threw herself wholeheartedly into her new community.  She has served in over twenty five civic, cultural, political and educational organizations in Comal County during the past thirty three years.  At the local level, she was President of Community Service Center, Comal County Medical Auxiliary, Comal Garden Club, New Braunfels Book Review Club, New Braunfels Republican Women, Mid-Texas Symphony Guild, Hospice New Braunfels, New Braunfels Council of Garden Clubs, New Braunfels Toastmasters, Communities in Schools, Homespun and Upstarts.  At the state level, she’s been President of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians Auxiliary, the Texas Women’s Education Foundation, and the Texas Federation of Republican Women.  One of her most recent volunteer jobs was serving as campaign co-chairman to build the current Tye Preston Memorial Library in Canyon Lake.

After being asked to run for city council and serving one term as a council member from 1993-1996, Jan became the first woman elected mayor of New Braunfels.  City council meetings began to be televised as she had pledged to do during her campaign.  Under her leadership, she adopted the first comprehensive plan approved in several years, built the New Braunfels Public Library, partnered with Comal County to restore the historic Faust Bridge, and remodeled a building to house the Police Department.

Jan was elected President of the Texas Federation of Republican Women for two terms in 1996 and traveled to over 150 counties.  She decided to run for and was elected as County Commissioner, Precinct 4 where she worked on the adopted county strategic plan, the parks program, transportation projects, and historical preservation. Her most significant work for county citizens was spearheading the efforts to guarantee the restoration of the historic courthouse and its Rededication Ceremony held on January 22, 2013.

Jan has been honored with dozens of outstanding awards, including:    Circle Arts Theatre Standing Ovation Award, Good Samaritan Award from the Community Service Center, the Toastmasters President’s Award, the Girl Scout’s Women of Distinction Award, and the PTA Life Member Award.  She’s been the Herald Zeitung’s Citizen of the Year, received the President’s Award from the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, was named a Princess of the City by the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, and a recipient of the Ten Outstanding Award from the Texas Federation of Republican Women.  Her picture hangs in the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Honor, and she has received the esteemed Besserung Award from the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce – just to name a few of her many honors.

Jan has three children, Lisa, Rocky and Vance, and five grandchildren, J.J., Jessica, Tess, Hunter, and Cameron and one great grand-daughter, Lexie.  She and Don have lived in New Braunfels for thirty three years now, and she considers being a part of this charming, dynamic city a gift beyond her wildest dreams.  She is thankful every day for the warm and wonderful people who welcomed her with open arms, and it is a pleasure of the Braunfels Foundation Trust to welcome her as a Living Legend of New Braunfels.

 

 

 

Gladys Bartling

 

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.”  While the author of these words did not have our Living Legend Alice Bartling in mind when he wrote them, to the many in our community who have benefited from the SOS Food Bank, he surely could have!  Although Gladys is probably best known for her work with the SOS Food Bank, giving her heart through food is just one of the many gifts Gladys has given her community and why The Braunfels Foundation Trust has selected her as a Living Legend of New Braunfels.

Gladys Staats Bartling was born on the family farm near Schumannsville in Guadalupe County.   Like most children of the time, she started school at Union Wein County School speaking only German.  The family, including sister, Adelaine Biggers and brother, Alton, would eventually move to town.  Because of an illness, Gladys started school again, but this time at Carl Schurz Elementary.  Gladys graduated from New Braunfels High School in 1953 at age sixteen and ranked number three in her class.  Following graduation, she attended Durham Business College and began working as a secretary bookkeeper at Bock Motor Company.

Gladys married Korean War veteran Helmuth Bartling in 1954.  The couple spent many happy years following the activities and sporting adventures of their nieces and nephews including church youth trips.  While working at First Protestant Church as an executive secretary and bookkeeper, Gladys and Helmuth were encouraged to, and enlisted the help of, Reverend Richard Kuretsch to adopt their two children, Gordon and Julie.

For fourteen years, Gladys volunteered in various positions in the PTA including City Council PTA president.  For her contributions, she was awarded Texas PTA’s highest honor, Life Membership Award.   A leader in 4-H, in Scouts, in Church Youth, and in the Aggies Mother’s Club, Gladys ran for and was elected to the New Braunfels ISD School Board in 1983.  She served on many Long Range Planning Committees and received the NBISD’s highest volunteer honor, the Silver Unicorn Award.

Gladys has served as a volunteer for the Crisis Line, Guadalupe County Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, Comal County Aids Task Force, and for the original Texas Information and Referral Task Force that initiated the 211 phone help line.

In 1988, Gladys initiated and coordinated with First Protestant Church and a dozen other churches in the community to create perhaps her most well known accomplishment:  The Spirit of Sharing or SOS Food Bank.  A little more than five years later, the Food Bank, with the support of seventeen churches and agencies in New Braunfels, had its own home at 248 West Merriweather.  Families receiving assistance are given “Basic Bags” of food which are supplemented with canned goods and bakery and other items, depending on the number of family members.  The “Basic Bag” contains frozen meats, one dozen eggs, flour, rice, sugar, beans, pasta, tomato sauce, oatmeal and peanut butter.

In 1990, Helmuth passed away, and Gladys was persuaded to volunteer with the Comal County Senior Citizens Center to help create a new Senior Citizens Center.  As director of that organization, Gladys opened the doors in 1991 to yet another community resource in New Braunfels.

A member of First Protestant Church, Gladys sings in the Sanctuary Choir, is active in Women’s Fellowship, and chairs one a bereavement committee.  She is currently on the Salvation Army Board of Directors, the President of the SOS Food Bank, a docent with the Heritage Society, and a member of the Sophienburg Museum, Comal County Genealogy Society, and Comal County Senior Citizens Foundation.  Gladys is also an alumnus of the New Braunfels Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association, a member of the American Legion Post 35 Auxiliary, VFW Post 7110 Auxiliary, and President of the AARP Chapter 1823.  Gladys was a member of the 1993 Leadership New Braunfels class and among her other accomplishments, received the Herald Zeitung’s Unsung Hero Award in 1993.

In her spare time, Gladys works part-time for Cell-U-Insul, Inc., occasionally for Caterall, and since 2001 at Wurstfest.

 

 

 

Myra Lee Goff

She has taught newcomers and reminded locals about the history of New Braunfels and Comal County through her numerous books and newspaper columns.  She has taught generations of New Braunfels elementary and junior high school children about the history of their city and state and even taught some of us how to yodel.  Myra Lee Goff is our teacher, our historian laureate, and now a Braunfels Foundation Trust Living Legend.

Myra Lee Adams was born in New Braunfels and is a fifth generation New Braunfelser.  She grew up, like many of her generation, learning to swim in the spring-fed pool at Landa Park and in a household where German was spoken.  She graduated from New Braunfels High School where she began her writing career with a column in the Town and Country News and as a special correspondent for the San Antonio Light.  She left New Braunfels for Texas Christian University and earned a degree in Social Studies with minors in English and German.  Myra Lee also met her future husband, Glyn Goff, as freshmen at TCU and the two married their senior year.  After graduation, the newlyweds returned to New Braunfels where Myra Lee began teaching school.

Although she had a secondary degree, Myra Lee was hired to teach music, art, and fourth grade at Lamar Elementary, a school she herself had attended as a child.  After teaching at Lamar for three years, Myra Lee left teaching temporarily to raise their three children: Karen, Patricia, and James Marcus.  In 1963, Myra Lee returned to teaching at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School.  The following year, she began teaching sixth grade music, art, and social studies at Carl Schurz Elementary.  Although she began piano lessons at age seven, taught music to hundreds of children, and still plays the piano today, Myra Lee never learned to read music.  She played everything by ear and none of her teachers ever knew!  Her students certainly never knew and were the beneficiaries of end-of-school music programs that bordered on Broadway productions!

In 1970, all sixth graders were relocated to New Braunfels Middle School, and Myra Lee moved with them.  At New Braunfels Middle School, Myra Lee taught Fine Arts which included art, music, drama, social studies, and English.  She ended her teaching career at NBMS in charge of the Gifted and Talented Program and the Odyssey of the Mind and Knowledge Masters programs.

Retirement brought Myra Lee back to her writing career and a partnership with Rosemarie Leissner Gregory that produced several books about the history of New Braunfels and Comal County.  The two women authored Kindermaskenball, Past and Present, the History of First Protestant Church, and the narrative for New Braunfels, Comal County Texas, A Pictorial History.  Myra Lee recently wrote another book on the history of the Comal County Fair, It’s Fair Time, The History of the Comal County Fair and a feature section for the New Braunfels Herald Zeitung about the history of the Comal County Courthouse to commemorate the Courthouse renovation.

Since 2006, Myra Lee has written her column “Around the Museum and Archives.”  Written for the Sophienburg Museum and Archives, the column appears in the Herald Zeitung every other Sunday and is about the people, places, and events in the history of New Braunfels.

Myra Lee received the Silver Unicorn Award from the New Braunfels Independent School District, the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award from the New Braunfels Independent School District Education Foundation, and the Sophienburg Museum and Archives named her their Volunteer of the Year.  She has been a member of the First Protestant Church Choir for thirty years, a Sunday School teacher, the Grand Marshall of the Kindermaskenball Parade, and the Grand Marshall of the Comal County Fair Parade.

Lorenz Franz Bading

Lorenz Franz Bading was born September 13, 1916, on the family farm about 7 miles north of New Braunfels.  Lorenz’s dad was very mechanical-minded—a builder, carpenter, and innovator.  When working with his dad inventing and/or building a wind-powered gristmill, molasses press, a portable grain-threshing machine, and a variety of small implements, Lorenz learned many skills, including leadership, organizational skills, effective communication, and creativity. The Bading family was quite musically inclined, and this passion was instilled in Lorenz early in life when he starting playing the accordion at about age 12.

 

Lorenz married Lottie, his wife of almost 72 years, on January 28, 1939; their first daughter Laurel was born in 1941 and their second daughter Lanette in 1947.

 

Lorenz was one of the “Greatest Generation,” having honorably served his country in World War II. The increase of international unrest influenced Lorenz to enlist in the New Braunfels-based 133rd Field Artillery Regimental Band of the Texas National Guard in April 1937.  With the activation of the Guard into Federal service in 1940, Lorenz became a full-time soldier. With the Allied invasion of North Africa, Lorenz served in the 36th Division in preparing for the invasion of Italy. On September 9, 1943, now famously known as Salerno Day, Lorenz landed on the beachhead on that first day of the campaign to liberate Italy. He served with the 36th Division throughout the Italian campaign as it progressed through France, Germany, and Austria, until the war’s end in May of 1945.  Lorenz exhibited considerable organizational and leadership skills as he rose to assume the duties and responsibilities of First Sergeant and Band Leader of the (sole remaining) divisional band (originally 11 regimental bands). After overseas service, Lorenz was promoted to Warrant Officer and further served his nation by reorganizing the 36th Division Band now headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, ultimately completing 11 years of active duty service from 1937 to 1948. Since 1945 Lorenz has devoted 67 years (to date) to preserve the legacy of the 36th Division. Over the years Lorenz has made presentations before local grade school and high school students and also band members of the 36th Division Infantry Band in Austin, TX about the history of active duty of the 36th Division from 1937 to 1948.

 

After serving his country, due to Lorenz’ interest in building, and with his leadership and command skills gained in the military, in l945 Lorenz took a position with Richards and Krueger Lumber Company as a residential homebuilder and eventually became a manager and partner in the company. His entrepreneurial abilities enabled him to establish his own company, Homes by Lorenz, in 1968. He continued this enterprise for 57 years. Lorenz was highly respected as a reputable builder and still receives calls from past clients seeking his advice on home construction or remodeling and commending him on the quality of his work. Similar to his leadership and organizational abilities in the military, he founded and served as President of the Comal County Builders Association and was also a representative for local, state, and national Homebuilders’ Associations.

 

In addition to his military and personal career, Lorenz served his community by his extensive involvement in many other civic and community organizations. He was President of the New Braunfels Rotary Club. His interests in resource conservation in his community led him to his involvement in the Crystal Clear Water Supply Corporation, where he served as a member of the Board of Directors for 29 years from 1980 – 2009.    Lorenz joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion, and served as Post Commander of the VFW. He remains active as a Life Member of both. Lorenz participates to this day in efforts to ensure that all veterans, past and currently serving, receive the appreciation and recognition they deserve. To further encourage patriotism and education, for many years he graded essays submitted by students of local middle schools and high schools in the “Patriot Pen” and “Voice of Democracy” competitions sponsored yearly by the VFW Post #7110.

 

Music was always an essential part of Lorenz’ life. Even before the war Lorenz played in several community bands and orchestras, including the New Braunfels Municipal Band. Following World War II he organized and led a Big Band dance orchestra for 40 years.

 

Lorenz’ family has been involved in local agriculture since they arrived in Texas in 1848 and he has been devoted to preserving farmland as a resource for the community and the nation. A fifth generation farmer and rancher, Lorenz was recognized by the State of Texas Department of Agriculture Family Land Heritage Program for having kept his family farm in continuous agricultural operation for more than 100 years (for Farm I founded in 1881 and Farm II founded in 1852) and 150 years (for Farm II). It is noteworthy that Farm I is the oldest farm in continuous cultivation by a single family in Comal County. Over the years Lorenz has developed a strong reputation for the quality of his breeding cattle. Buyers have traveled statewide to purchase his animals for their herds. Lorenz has worked with various city and county government entities regarding land use and planning to ensure that conservation issues are incorporated into their plans.

 

In conclusion, a letter written May 12, 1945, by one of the men in his military unit told of how Lorenz was the man who kept the unit from never faltering in any of its duties; how Lorenz was an inspiration to the servicemen; how the writer tried to incorporate some of Lorenz’ finer points, such as his exemplary character and morals, into his philosophy of life. It concluded by stating that in time of war the Army needed men like Lorenz for its officers. Throughout his life that same exemplary ideal has been a part of Lorenz’ character in serving his community and his country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helgard Suhr-Hollis

Helgard Suhr-Hollis was born in Potsdam, Germany.  She lived in East-Germany for many years and moved with her family to West-Germany in 1949.  She attended school in Düsseldorf (Abitur) and graduated from the Höhere Fachschule (College) in Cologne with a BA in Home Administration.

 

She immigrated with her friend Christel to New Braunfels in October 1962.  She fell in love with the town, founded by Germans.  In 1963 she married W. Frank Suhr and they had three children: Frank, Brigitte and Monika.  Later, her second marriage was to Dr. Patrick Hollis in 1996 and she has two step-children:  Shawn and Erin.

 

Helgard stated to volunteer at Seele Elementary school, was a Girl Scout leader for 10 years and worked with her son’s Boy Scout troop for 8 years.  She is a co-founder of the German American Society and the Marsch- und Wandergruppe, and was president of both organizations for many years.  She organized 22 concerts for German Choirs, bands, artists and folk dance groups.  She is a member of the German American Heritage Society of Washington, DC, and officer of the NB Partnership Committee, a charter member of the NB Heritage Society and docent there for more than 25 years.  Helgard is a life member of the Sophienburg Museum and she has volunteered at its Archives for 20 years.  She is a long time member of the NB Conservation Society and was in charge of the two fund drives.  She has been a member of the NB Rotary Club for 20 years, serving as president in 2007-08, and for 14 years was chair of the International Lane.  She went on Rotary mission trips to Guatemala and Mexico.  Helgard is a Life member of the Chamber of Commerce, a Blue Coat for 24 years and was Blue Coat of the Year 7 times.  She organized a city-wide effort to get 1,200 chairs for the Civic Center, and raised more than $18,000 for the chair campaign.  Helgard was on the committee to raise $200,000 to remodel the City Gazebo and helped raise funds for the Prince Solms Statue at the Civic Center.  Her hobbies are traveling, walking, reading and being a volunteer.

 

Helgard received the Order of Merit from the President of Germany and the German-American Friendship Award from the German Ambassador.  From the Chamber of Commerce, she received the Besserung Award, the President’s Award and her picture is in Honors Hall.  She received the Silver Unicorn Award for the NB School District and the Builder Award from the New Braunfels Masonic Lodge.

 

Fred Bailey Willard

When I look back on my life, it is so clear to see how the Sovereignty of God led me to New Braunfels.  Toward the end of my military service in the US Army Dental Corps, my attention was focused on choosing a place in Texas to live and practice dentistry.  Although I did not have New Braunfels specifically in mind, like so many others I liked  central Texas. I remembered Dr. Vernon Cook who practiced in San Marcos; when I called him, he told me about Dr. Roger Bolton’s practice on Dittlinger Street in New Braunfels being for sale. Had I been looking at New Braunfels a year earlier, I could not have chosen it as Drs. Don Bedford and Carroll Shelton had both recently opened  practices. When I arrived in New Braunfels,  there were seven general dentists practicing in a town of 14,000 people. They were Drs. Bedford, Bielstein, Browning, Fischer, Lewis, Sacco and Shelton.  We had three dental specialists: Dr. J.D. Larkin, Prosthodontics, and Drs. O.A. Stratemann and Nelson D. Kahler, Orthodontics.  Having grown up in Giddings, a small town ninety miles from here with a strong German influence, the German heritage here was a comfortable fit.  I opened my practice on March 1, 1965, in Comal Town as that area surrounding the hospital was called. In October 1967 I was the first tenant in the Landa Professional Center at 457 Landa Street.  In 2000 I sold my practice to Dr. Horacio Lucero with whom I still work at Mission Hill Dental on Hwy. 46 West and Big Oak.  I have never regretted moving to New Braunfels.  I love the people; I love the place.

 

In fact, we have been so very blessed to live and work and raise our two sons in New Braunfels.  I am glad to tell others that I live in the “Beauty Spot of Texas” as an original license plate frame on my Model “A” Ford proclaims.  Evidently our forefathers were proud to use that slogan back in the 1930’s and 40’s.

 

Because I live in New Braunfels and derive my livelihood from the people here, I have always believed that I should give back to my community.  My wife often states that I am the only person she knows who feels he needs to pay for the space he occupies on Earth.  I am keenly aware that there are others in my profession who have felt the same and who deserve this honor  more than I.  I am convinced that Rotary International’s motto of “Service Above Self” is ingrained in my being and really should be in each of us who lives and works in a special community.  We cannot all accomplish the same things, but we can all do a small part to make life better.

In closing, besides dentistry, I would imagine locals will remember me for singing  in community choirs and Barbershop Quartets and choruses.  Some might associate me with old and special interest automobiles.  If I were to choose the two major accomplishments  in which I have been involved, one would be the planting of Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA).  The other is the founding of the New Braunfels Area Car Club Swap Meet and Car Show.  In both, the Lord gave me the vision, but I know neither of these endeavors would have grown and prospered without His leading.  I give Him all the glory for two totally unrelated and unequal activities, one of a totally spiritual nature and the other purely secular. What a wonderful life I have had!