The flood of 1972 was a devastating event in the life our beloved city. The loss of life and property was unparalleled in our history. Out of that loss, however, New Braunfels gained a treasure and one of our newest Living Legends, Carter Casteel.
Frances Carter Barron was born in Monahans, Texas, and was raised in an oil camp between the towns of Wickett and Monahans where her father, Frank, was employed by Gulf Oil as a field superintendent. Her mother, Ilda, a woman of charm and intellect was a school teacher and when elected city secretary, became one of the first women elected to public office in West Texas. She died in 1957 when Carter was only fourteen. The Barrons legacy to their daughter was a strong work ethic, independence, and a dedication to service that has defined her life.
Carter graduated from Monahans High School in 1961 and headed to the University of Texas in Austin where she promptly met Tom Casteel. The two were married the following year, and they welcomed daughter Cheryl born during Carter’s junior year. Carter graduated in July 1965 with a B.A. in Government and History and started as a classroom teacher at Porter Junior High in Austin while earning a Masters from Southwest Texas State in 1971.
The 1972 flood severely damaged the home owned by Tom’s mother on the Guadalupe River. When Tom’s mother decided to sell her home, Tom decided he and Carter were buying it and moving to New Braunfels. Carter landed a job teaching civics at Canyon High School where she taught for nine years. In 1982, she started at St. Mary’s School of Law and graduated 1985 and began practicing law. Carter served as a Comal Independent School District Trustee for six years from 1984-1990 including a term as president. In 1990, she became the first woman elected Comal County Judge and during her eight years on the court helped improve infrastructure, law enforcement, roads, as well as managing the increasing growth of Comal County.
In 2003, Carter began serving the first of two terms representing Comal, Kendall, Bandera, and Gillespie counties as District 73 State Representative earning the Republican Freshman of the Year nod by her colleagues in the House and an honorable mention in 2005 as one of “Texas Monthly” magazine’s Ten Best (legislators).
Carter’s list of civic, legislative, and non-legislative accomplishments and memberships over the years are almost countless. She was recognized in 2004 as the “Herald-Zeitung’s” Citizen of the Year and in 1990 received the Chamber’s prestigious Besserung Award. At one time or another, she’s been a member of the Comal County Bar Association, Comal County Fair Association, Conservation and Heritage Societies, and the Sophienburg Museum just to name a few. She’s been on the Board of Directors for the Comal County United Way, New Braunfels/Comal County Crime Stoppers, Connections, Eden Association, Chair of the Board of the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, KLRN, and of multiple Republican Women’s Clubs in the area. Carter is a Rotarian, a member of the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, and a Blue Coat Ambassador.
Carter practices law with her children and law partners, Barron Casteel and Cheryl Casteel, at their firm Casteel and Casteel. She and Tom are members of First United Methodist Church and are the very proud grandparents of five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Another flood in 1998 caused the Casteels to move again, but this time thankfully only to higher ground. Carter has brought distinction and honor to our community through her service as a teacher, trustee, county judge, legislator, and volunteer. We’ve benefitted immensely from her service and thank her by naming her a Living Legend of New Braunfels.