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