2023 LIVING LEGENDS
The Braunfels Foundation Trust is somewhat late to the party in recognizing Cecil Eager’s many contributions to our community. The New Braunfels Herald Zeitung honored him as a “Pillar of the Community” and an “Unsung Hero.” The Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce placed him in the Hall of Honor just last year. The New Braunfels Community Foundation bestows an annual philanthropy award, “The Eager,” in his honor. Abilene Christian University inducted him into their Sports Hall of Fame and named a tennis facility for Cecil and his wife, Judi. The Braunfels Foundation Trust is delighted to join in and honor Cecil Eager as a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
Cecil was born in the small west Texas town of Clyde. Merwin and Georgia Mae Eager raised their son and two daughters to live their Christian faith and to work as a team — concepts that are the solid foundations of Cecil’s professional and volunteer life.
After graduating high school, Cecil earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from Abilene Christian University and a master’s degree from Baylor. He coached high school for a year until he was hired by World Championship Tennis in Dallas, a professional men’s tennis tour. The untimely death of Cecil’s father compelled him to return home to assist his mother and reunited him with Abilene Christian. Cecil served as the men’s and women’s tennis coach at Abilene Christian for twelve years, leading the Wildcats to NCAA Division II top ten rankings and seven Lone Star Conference championships. He coached twenty-five All-Americans and additionally served as Abilene Christian’s Athletic Director from 1990 until 1995.
While coaching at ACU, Cecil worked summers in Missouri at Kanakuk, a well-known Christian-based sports camp. He was at the facility when T-Bar-M Tennis Camp in New Braunfels came to research converting their pure tennis camp into a sports camp. The visit proved significant for all parties. Cecil’s mission of building a nationally recognized tennis program at Abilene Christian lacked the resources for the travel necessary to play ranked teams. Cecil arranged with his new acquaintances at T-Bar-M to host tennis tournaments for Abilene Christian over spring breaks, with significant results for his teams. The relationship between T-Bar-M and Cecil also proved significant personally. In 1996, Cecil accepted an offer from T-Bar-M to serve as president of their camps, and the Eagers relocated their family to New Braunfels.
In 2000, an opportunity arose, and Cecil and Judi bought the historic Gruene Mansion Inn. It was an opportunity that would provide the Eagers with personal satisfaction and new relationships in the business community. Cecil became involved with the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce, where he served on the Chamber’s Board of Directors for three years and on the Convention and Visitors Bureau for thirteen years, including a three-year stint as committee chair.
In 2009, Cecil attended a Chamber retreat and served as a committee member tasked with identifying community improvements. A neighbor in Abilene had been a member of a community foundation, and Cecil was surprised that New Braunfels did not have one. Cecil suggested starting a similar foundation, and fellow committee members Marian Benson, Roger Tuttle, and Doug Toney agreed. Armed with the Chamber’s blessing and the addition of David Pfeuffer, the committee spent one year researching and fact-finding. The Chamber agreed the project was worthy enough to be an independent undertaking. Four years later, after countless meetings and with critical seed money funding from the McKenna Foundation, the New Braunfels Community Foundation was born.
The New Braunfels Community Foundation has, to date, granted more than eight million dollars to non-profit causes in the community and has assets of more than thirteen million dollars. The community foundation serves as a way for people to create an endowment that outlives them and continues to fund their causes and goals. With over 140 funds, the foundation grants monies for causes like senior services, education, and youth programs.
Cecil has also served his community in other organizations that have benefitted from his coaching and expertise. He served as Chair of the Comal County Water District No. 1, worked with the Young Life Organization for fifteen years, and sits on the board of Abilene Christian University. To recognize their hard work, Cecil and Judi were deservedly named Small Business Persons of the Year in 2007.
Cecil and Judi are the proud parents of Ashley Murphy, Shane Bowen, and Chelsea Mason, and grandparents of nine. As he has done for his family, Cecil Eager has coached, taught, and cared for student-athletes, staff, and his community as his own. The Braunfels Foundation Trust congratulates Cecil Eager, a Living Legend of New Braunfels, for strengthening our community for future generations.
Pope Francis once said, “When we are generous in welcoming people and sharing something with them — some food, a place in our homes, our time — not only do we no longer remain poor, we are enriched.” Pope Francis might have had Kathy Meurin in mind when he spoke those words. Kathy has been selflessly sharing her time, talents, home, and food for decades. While most know her as the owner of a successful catering business, many may not know the scope of Kathy’s commitment to our community and beyond.
Kathy Ann Sisak was born in New Braunfels and started school at Saints Peter and Paul. Determined to play sports in school, Kathy begged her parents to attend public school where sports were offered. Eventually, Joe and Ellarene gave in, built a house, and relocated to Clear Springs. Kathy graduated from Canyon High School in 1976, where she played basketball and tennis, ran track, and made two trips to Austin for state volleyball appearances.
After graduation, Kathy enrolled in the New Braunfels School of Vocational Nursing and began working at Seton Medical Center in Austin. Her nursing career, however, was short-lived. After helping with an anniversary party for her parents, Myrtle Moeller from Comal Flower Shop suggested she had a “real knack for this” and should consider starting her own catering business. Kathy and her husband, Steve, had been discussing starting a family, and the idea of a part-time business was intriguing. So, with her mother at her side, Kathy ditched her 40-50 hour per week nursing career for an 80 hour per week part-time catering business, which she still owns forty-three years later.
Catering is her livelihood, but fortunately for our community, it is also the vehicle for Kathy to make a difference. In 1983, the New Braunfels Rotary Club approached her to cater their lunch meetings. She accepted the offer and has served lunch every Wednesday, with a short covid hiatus, for the past forty years. Within a few years, Kathy was one of three female members invited to join the all-male club. She later served as the New Braunfels Rotary Club’s first female president.
Working with James Dunks and Arlon Hermes, Kathy quickly became involved with the club’s fundraisers at the Comal County Fair and Wurstfest. Her expertise promptly made a difference. The Rotary booth was selling sausage and curly fries when Wurstfest offered them the potato pancake booth. Rotary accepted, and Kathy’s request to find a replacement for their old booth was granted. Her recommendation of the Comal County Junior Livestock Show for the sausage booth proved to be a financial game-changer for that non-profit organization.
Kathy’s decades-long commitment to the New Braunfels Rotary’s Youth Exchange Program is extraordinary. She serves on the Club’s Youth Exchange Committee and volunteers with the District’s Youth Exchange program, assisting with orientations, training, and interviews. Kathy additionally participates in the South Central Rotary Youth Exchange Program, an organization of thirty-seven Rotary member districts across eighteen states. Kathy served as their president and recently retired as the seven-year executive secretary of the program. She continues to serve on the Compliance Committee.
When Hurricane Laura hit Lake Charles in 2020, Kathy was a member of the New Braunfels Rotary group that went to help. She loaded her trailers, sought funding, and asked for items from suppliers. Kathy and fellow members cooked 2,500 meals and offered supplies from flatbed trailers.
When Kathy and Steve’s sons, Jonathan and Wesley, raised sheep in high school, Kathy worked as president of Canyon High School’s FFA Booster Club to restructure their fundraising efforts. She reorganized concessions and acquired donated prizes for their youth shows, significantly increasing their profits. The Comal County Junior Livestock Show also recruited Kathy for her expertise. Along with pals Curt Schaefer and Clyde Garrison, Kathy helped run concessions for years.
Kathy’s membership with Rotary exposed other community organizations and service opportunities in New Braunfels. She is a thirty-year Chamber Blue Coat and served as United Way President in 1998. Kathy accepted an appointment from Mayor Barron Casteel in 2016 to serve on the city’s Economic Development or 4B Board. Since then, Kathy has collaborated on quality-of-life projects such as Das Rec, the Landa Park miniature golf course, changes to Elizabeth Street, Castell Street drainage, and other projects. She is proud of working on the bond issue for the new Zipp sports complex and of her role as President of the Advisory Board that led to the partnerships created for exciting changes to the Central Texas Technology Center.
Kathy has a dozen plaques on the walls of her office commending her for offices held and activities performed. In 2012, the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce recognized Kathy’s efforts to strengthen our community with a Hall of Honor Award and the prestigious outstanding citizen recognition, the Besserung Award in 2023.
Kathy has enriched the lives of her family -- husband Steve, sons Wesley and Jonathan, and four grandchildren. She has enriched the community she loves, and the Braunfels Foundation Trust congratulates her as a Living Legend.
When Alton Rahe, a young New Braunfels junior high school teacher, approached his father about changing careers, Albert Rahe told his son, “Just because I was a teacher doesn’t mean you have to be.” The fatherly advice re-routed his son’s career path but not the course of his life. Alton Rahe has been writing, playing, and teaching the history and culture of New Braunfels and Comal County for decades. To recognize his many contributions to the fabric of our community, the Braunfels Foundation Trust is proud to honor him as a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
Alton Rahe was born in the small community of Sattler in 1932, which, like many of the communities that dotted Comal County, was created from the westward expansion of German settlers in the 1840s. His father was the Mountain Valley School’s teacher and Alton’s only teacher for his first nine grades. In 1948, the Rahes moved to New Braunfels, and Alton became a Unicorn.
For many, high school is the place where you meet life-long friends. It’s where talents are recognized, and you are forced to take math. Young Alton excelled in math and would spend forty-one years as a civilian in statistical analyses with the United States Air Force. Raised in a musical family, Alton played the guitar since elementary school. Joining the Unicorn band and playing the saxophone would give him life-long friends and a garage band that would become the Hi-Toppers.
The Hi-Toppers were initially three friends, Gordon Zunker, Darvin Dietert, and Alton, who began practicing polkas at home. They began playing at dance halls around the area as the “Ach und Krach Kapelle” or the “Make or Break Band.” Their success soon necessitated additional musicians and a name change. Because they were in high school and were “tops in music,” Henry Fisk chose the “Hi-Toppers.” Musicians Melford Haag, Allen Moehrig, and George Fisk were recruited. Though additional personnel changes occurred over the years, by 1978, the Hi-Toppers had performed at more than 150 dancehalls, recorded ten nationally recognized records, performed at twenty-five Wurstfests, and received the first ever-awarded Burgermeister Award in 1974 from New Braunfels Mayor Bill Brown for serving as ambassadors of goodwill and promoting German heritage.
Alton graduated from New Braunfels High and continued his education at Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos while performing nights and weekends with the Hi-Toppers. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education and later a master’s degree in education. In 1967, he received a second master’s degree, this time in Statistics, from Virginia Polytechnical Institute, now Virginia Tech.
Alton married Yvonne Reinhard in June of 1955, soon began a family, and left teaching. As a civilian mathematical statistician for the Air Force, Alton co-authored numerous technical publications. He also taught evening classes at St. Mary’s University, San Antonio College, and religion classes at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church. In addition to the Hi-Toppers, Alton was a member of the American Legion Band, the 36th Infantry Division Band, the New Braunfels Brass Band, was a cantor and sang in the Men’s Choir at Saints Peter and Paul from its inception in 2002 until 2022.
After his retirement in 1997, Alton turned his attention and talents to local history and genealogy. He served as a Comal County Historical Commission member for fifteen years and as an officer for twelve years. Alton has written at least sixteen narratives for historical markers that dot our county to remind us of our rich history. He is a Comal County Genealogy Society member, where he has served in various positions. His generosity in sharing his knowledge of our county’s history is well-known and has helped many in their family and community research.
Alton has published four books on Comal County: History of Mission Valley Community, History of Sattler and Mountain Valley School in Comal County, Texas, 1846-1964, Fifty Years of Wurstfest, and Rural Schools and Teachers in Comal County, Texas, 1854-1956. Another book, Sixty Years of Wurstfest in New Braunfels - A Closer Look at a Triumphant Decade (2011-2021), is in the works. Any profits made from selling these books, Alton unselfishly donates back to charitable organizations.
Alton joined the Knights of Columbus in the sixties and is currently a Life Member. In 1981, he became a member of the Wurstfest Association, achieving Opa Emeritus status in 2011.
The Braunfels Foundation Trust is not the first organization to recognize Alton’s contributions. In 2014, he received the first Frederick Frueholz Preservation Award from the Comal County Historical Commission. In 2015, the NBISD Education Foundation named him a Distinguished Unicorn Alumni.
Alton and Yvonne celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary this year. They are the parents of Mark Rahe, Lori Ventura, and Nina Faulkner, as well as grandparents to three. Alton still checks his cattle on his historic ranch in Mission Valley that bears both a Recorded Texas Historical and National Register of Historic Places landmark. Alton Rahe is a gentleman, a scholar, a musician, a teacher, a treasure, and a Living Legend of New Braunfels.