2022 LIVING LEGENDS
Linda Pfannstiel Dietert
As the former Director of the Sophienburg Museum and in dozens of various volunteer roles over the years, Linda Dietert has told the stories of her beloved hometown of New Braunfels. Currently, she is telling the stories of the women and children of the Republic of Texas at the new Republic of Texas Museum in Austin where she serves as committee chair. Linda Dietert is a teacher, a historian, an extraordinary volunteer, and now a Braunfels Foundation Trust Living Legend.
Linda Kay Pfannstiel Dietert is a local girl and a fifth generation New Braunfelser and Texan. The youngest of four children, Linda grew up in the 1852 fachwerk house in Comaltown where she and her husband live today. When Linda was sixteen, her mother died leaving her to help care for her father and grandfather. She worked almost continuously during her high school years – waiting tables at the original Krause’s Café and writing orders for senior rings at the Overall Company. In 1968, while teaching lessons in the Jaycees’ summer swimming program, Linda met a young Canyon Cougar named Mike Dietert who she would marry several years later.
Linda graduated from New Braunfels High School in 1968 where she was a member of the Unicorn Band, a twirler, and drum major. In 1972, Linda graduated from Southwest Texas with a Bachelor of Science in Education and began teaching the second grade at Goodwin Elementary.
Linda left teaching after son, Brandon, was born and later took the job as Executive Director of the Sophienburg Museum and Archives. She was the Museum’s director twice in her career, and during her tenure, the Museum moved from the original building on the corner of Coll and Academy to its present location in the old city library.
Linda later taught at First Protestant Preschool for several years and was the preschool’s director. She was involved with the Children’s Museum of New Braunfels where she worked on programming and exhibits. She also served as the Museum’s director and managed the Museum’s moves from the Krueger Chevrolet building, two moves at the Marketplace, and Courtyard Shopping center.
Daughter Allison was born in 1979, and as the children grew, Linda became involved at their schools serving as president of the Seele Elementary, New Braunfels Junior High and City Council PTAs as well as Unicorn Band Booster President.
Centered around history, her volunteer life mirrored her professional life. A three-year president of the New Braunfels Conservation Society, Linda was key to the Comal Independent School District donating the 1870 hand-hewn limestone Church Hill School to the Conservation Society.
Linda is a founding member of the Heritage Society and docent at the Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture. Folkfest was the brainchild of Linda and 2010 Living Legend, Bobbie Purdum. Linda chaired and was the parade Grand Marshall of the Kindermasken Parade and Ball event, one of New Braunfels’ oldest heritage traditions.
During the 1970s through the 1990s, the original New Braunfels Civic Center was home to the Heritage Exhibit which presented displays of the history of New Braunfels. Linda worked on every one of the Heritage Exhibits and was Heritage Exhibit Chair in 1990.
Linda served on the first New Braunfels Historic Landmark Commission in the 1970s and in 2008. She also volunteered on the Downtown Development Board, the Downtown Design Review Committee, the Landa Park Design Committee, and served as Comal County Aggie Moms President. During the recent city of New Braunfels’ 175th Anniversary, Linda worked on numerous projects celebrating that milestone event.
Linda currently serves on the Comal County Historical Commission and is 50-year member of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, and a member of First Protestant Church where she has played the handbells for thirty-five years.
Linda is a past president and member of the Ferdinand Lindheimer Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. At the state level, Linda has made dozens of trips up IH 35 to Austin serving as Committee Chair and designing the new Republic of Texas Museum.
The Braunfels Foundation Trust is not the first organization to recognize Linda’s impressive volunteer resume. The Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce inducted her into the Hall of Honor and she was twice awarded their Chair of the Board Award for historic preservation and again for Education.
Linda, and Mike, a 2018 Living Legend, are one of only four couples who have been recognized as Living Legends. Linda and Mike are parents to Brandon and Allison and are grandparents of four. The Braunfels Foundation is thankful that Linda Dietert continues to tell the stories of New Braunfels and our great state for the generations to come.
The fabric of New Braunfels is a patch work of community service pieced together by numerous dedicated citizens and volunteers. Since he arrived in New Braunfels in 1972 to take the reins of Mission Valley Textile Mills, Bill Dodd Morton’s service and contributions have uniquely strengthened our community’s fabric. To recognize his service, The Braunfels Foundation Trust has named him a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
Bill Dodd Morton was born in on Sand Mountain in Boaz, Alabama, in 1932. He grew up in agricultural area with ideal farmland where cotton was king. When he wasn’t busy picking cotton, he was in school in Boaz where he played basketball and was president of his class.
After his high school graduation, Bill left for Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, where he enrolled in the Army’s Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program, studied Accounting, and soon earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration. During this time, Bill married his high school sweetheart, Nell Goss, and began a two-year Army commitment starting at Fort Sill and ending in Germany where he specialized in Field Artillery and specifically Howitzers.
Returning home to civilian life, Bill and Nell settled in Lindell, Georgia. Bill got a job at a local textile mill while working on his second degree from Auburn, this time in Engineering. With two degrees under his belt, Bill applied to and was accepted at one of the largest textile companies in the United States, West Point-Pepperell.
In 1972, Bill and Nell, son Mark, and daughter, Stacey, moved to New Braunfels. West-Point Pepperell wanted Bill to assume the responsibilities as the Chief Executive Officer and President of their newly acquired plant, Mission Valley Textile Mills. “The Mill,” as it was known to locals, was a vitally important thread in the economic fabric of New Braunfels. Opening in 1921 as the Planters and Merchants Mill, it was Comal County’s largest employer for much of its life. When Bill assumed the job as CEO, the Mill was still crucial to our local economy and known for producing, among other materials, the denim used in making Levi jeans. It was the largest textile producer in Texas with all operations under one roof: raw cotton would come in at one end of the plant and leave as rolls of fabric at the other. In 1989, however, the future of the Mill was in jeopardy and its 800 local jobs were hanging by a thread. Bill worked tirelessly over a period of several years to find a group of partners who invested in and ultimately saved the Mill from closure. In an article in the San Antonio Express and News, Chamber President Michael Meek was quoted as saying that: “It was really their love of the community that made them work so hard to save the plant.”
Bill Morton’s other contributions to our community include serving a six-year period on the board of McKenna Hospital and for a short time, acting as the hospital’s interim chief executive officer.
To assure the expansion of needed medical services to our community, Bill helped negotiate the sale of the McKenna Hospital to Christus Santa Rosa and establish the McKenna Foundation Trust for the distribution of grant monies to non-profit organizations and for other community endeavors.
During this time, Bill and others volunteered to begin a new church in New Braunfels. After meeting in schools and offices, a small structure, Oakwood Baptist Church, was built on Loop 337. Among his many other accomplishments, Bill was instrumental in hiring a young Houstonian and 2022 Living Legend, Ray Still, to be its pastor. Bill served as deacon and is still active at Oakwood.
Bill also served on the1995 Sesquicentennial Steering Committee, on the Brauntex Theatre Board, and was a member of the Citizen’s Police Academy. He has volunteered as a Child Advocate with the CASA organization since his retirement. Bill served as Past President of the Comal County United Way, as Past Chairman and Board Director of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, as Past President New Braunfels Manufacturer’s Association, and as Vice President of the New Braunfels Infrastructure Improvement Corporation.
In 2003, the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce named him to the Hall of Honor award for his community involvement.
After the death of Nell in 2014, Bill began a new chapter in his life with his marriage to Jan Kotylo and the blending of two families that includes two sons, four grandchildren, and two great grandsons. The Braunfels Foundation Trust is grateful that Bill Morton wove his life into the fabric of our community. We are richer and stronger for it.
Pastor Ray Still
Ray Still could have been an executive in the hospitality industry. He could have stayed in Houston, continued his work at a successful church, and had season tickets and perfect attendance at Astro home games. Ray Still, however, has a calling that led him to his profession and, fortunately for us, to New Braunfels. Because of the impact he continues to make on our community, the Braunfels Foundation Trust recognizes him as a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
Ray Burton Still was born in Houston. His father, Ross, was a World War II veteran who worked for the railroad. His mother, Nedra, managed their loving Christian household and raised her six children in church. The baby of the family, Ray attended high school at Broadway Baptist School where he played basketball and was team captain. Most significantly, Ray would meet his high school sweetheart and wife of 42 years, Sandra Pullen, at Broadway. Shortly after graduation, Ray and Sandra married and Ray enrolled at San Jacinto Junior College. He also got a parttime job working at the upscale Adam’s Mark Hotel. The experience at Adam’s Mark almost led Ray into the field of hospitality, but God had other plans.
A few years later, while taking classes at the University of Houston, Ray became Assistant Pastor and then Senior Pastor at Broadway Baptist Church. One day, he got a call to interview for the job as pastor at a fledgling church in New Braunfels. He was not initially inclined to interview for the job at Oakwood Baptist Church. Pastor Ray was very happy at Broadway. It was a great church with great people and both Ray and Sandra’s families lived in Houston. He was involved in Rotary and with numerous other organizations. The idea of moving to the little town of New Braunfels to a church with 140 or so congregants just didn’t seem to be the right move. The Stills, however, did agree to come to New Braunfels for an interview. It wasn’t until Bill Morton, a search committee member and 2022 Living Legend, shared the vision of what Oakwood could be that Ray answered the call, took the job, and moved to New Braunfels.
Pastor Ray has been at Oakwood for nearly thirty years and, during this time and through his leadership, the Church has grown both in congregants and in outreach. He established a counseling center that handles over 3,000 sessions annually to the Oakwood, New Braunfels, and surrounding communities. Oakwood’s Heart of Hope Christmas program provides families in our community with dinner, coats, bags of groceries and gifts for the kids.
Pastor Ray has been a Trustee on the McKenna Hospital Board and was a founding member of the McKenna Foundation Trust. He served on the boards of Christus Santa Rosa Systems, Howard Payne University, New Braunfels Christian Ministries, and Houston Baptist University.
In 2008, he led the effort to establish New Braunfels Christian Ministries and its Volunteers in Medicine Clinic. The clinic, which partners with CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital New Braunfels and Resolute Health Hospital of the Baptist Health System provides quality medical and dental care at no cost to local uninsured residents of New Braunfels and Comal County.
The Braunfels Foundation Trust is not the first to recognize Ray Still’s contributions to his community. In 2018, he received the Baptist Health Foundation of San Antonio Spirit of Health Award which is given yearly to an organization or individual who has had a significant impact on community health. Pastor Ray was honored for his leadership in efforts that resulted in healthy snacks and meals being provided daily to more than 250 under-resourced students from elementary schools through the Kids’ Club program, for championing the Kids’ Club Garden which provides fresh produce for Kids’ Club meals, students’ families, and Volunteers in Medicine patients. He initiated the New Braunfels Christian Ministries Harvest Food Pantry to provide groceries for families of school-age children.
A supporter of Communities in Schools, Pastor Ray has participated in the Dining with the Stars events for numerous years.
Ray Still has also led our city while serving as Chairman of the 2013 Bond Advisory Committee, the 2019 Bond Advisory Committee, and currently as Chair of the 2023 Bond Advisory Committee.
In 2020, Pastor Ray was announced at the 101st Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce Banquet as the winner of the Besserung Award, the outstanding citizen recognition for distinguishing himself while providing his time, talent, and expertise during those bond issue efforts. He was also awarded the Chamber’s Chair of the Board Award in 2018 in the field of community development.
Ray and Sandra have one son, Mitchell, and a daughter-in-law, Alicia. Ray Still practices what he preaches on Sunday mornings and for that, The Braunfels Foundation Trust gives thanks to the Lord above on behalf of a grateful community.