2020 LIVING LEGENDS
Fred Fey’s volunteer resume stands as a
shining example of service. He has served not only his church, but our community, through the ministries that he initiated as a deacon at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church over the past forty years. His service to New Braunfels is also evidenced through volunteer activities so impressive that he has been recognized by the Braunfels Foundation Trust as a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
Fred Fey can trace his ancestors back to that original group of hardy German settlers who crossed the ocean with Prince Carl in 1845 and established our beautiful city. His life of service began early when he earned the rank of Eagle Scout at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School. After high school, he attended seminary before enrolling at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos earning a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Arts and a master’s degree in Education. After teaching middle school drafting, Fred worked designing airplanes, air conditioners for Volkswagens, and steel forms for concrete. He later finished paid employment at Zoeller Funeral Home where he served families experiencing great loss.
As a member of the Jaycees, Fred served as Jaycee president in 1976 and was later honored as their Jaycee of the Year. During that time, the Jaycees sponsored the Texas Junior Miss Program, and Fred was very involved as chairman of the Scholarship Committee and acting as a host family for contestants.
When daughters Carolyn and Sandra were in school, Fred served as “Room Dad” even bringing his famous Wurlitzer organ to a Seele PTA Carnival. He served as President of the American Heart Association and helped design and build several of the displays at the Civic Center for the annual Heritage Exhibit held during Wurstfest. Fred was a New Braunfels High School Band Booster, supported the PTA, Aggie Moms, Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture, and the Sophienburg Museum and Archives where he still helps merchants arriving for Weihnachtsmarkt.
In 1980, Fred was ordained a Catholic Permanent Deacon serving in his hometown parish. Deacons are not on the parish payroll, so to perform the duties of a deacon for over forty years as a volunteer is truly a labor of love. Fred initiated four different ministries over the years at Saints Peter and Paul. The Bereavement Ministry is still active today while the Welcome Ministry still holds to Fred’s notion of welcoming new members. Now forty years old, the Sick and Homebound Ministry brings visits to parishioners in hospitals, care facilities, and private homes. Fred handled every aspect of The Sick and Homebound Ministry for over thirty-five years scheduling anywhere from 150-300 weekly individual visits by over ninety-five ministers. Most recently, he created a grief ministry, God’s Healing Love. These activities are in addition to the masses, baptisms, funerals, confirmations, and children’s activities in which Fred is involved.
Fred shares his love of music with New Braunfels via a 1900s Wurlitzer Military Band Organ, a Tangley Calliope mounted on a Model T, and a hand-crank Raffin street organ handmade in Germany. These instruments have been in Comal County Fair, Fourth of July, and Kindermaskenball parades. They have also been to child-care centers, nursing homes, community events, Wassilfests, and for the past 39 years, in Roselyn and Fred Fey’s front yard at Christmas. Fred and his wife of fifty-four years, Roselyn, offer homemade cookies, hot chocolate, hot cider, and music to the hundreds of people who are invited through announcements published in our local newspaper.
The New Braunfels Herald Zeitung honored Fred with their Unsung Hero award in 2014, and now the Braunfels Foundation Trust is delighted to openly sing the praises of Fred Fey for his faithful service to the citizens and community of New Braunfels by naming him a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
James "Jimmy" Owens
Many New Braunfels residents know Jimmy Owens from his family’s construction business, D&M Owens, Inc. Others know Jimmy as a fixture in the New Braunfels Little League baseball and the Upwards Bounds basketball programs. A few of us remember Jimmy as a drummer in his junior high school band playing gigs at First Protestant’s Youth Fellowship gatherings. The New Braunfels Foundation Trust knows James Owens as a gracious man with a volunteer resume so extraordinary that he has been named a Living Legend of New Braunfels.
Jimmy Owens is a local boy who graduated from New Braunfels High School in1973. After graduation, Jimmy married the ever-patient Beth Wissing, began a family, and joined the family business established by his mother, Mary, and father, David. Along with his father, brother, sister, and their children, Jimmy has built a successful and well-respected local construction company.
The success and resources of D&M Owens, Inc., has no doubt contributed to Jimmy’s ability to assist those in need, but his character is solely responsible for the rest. New Braunfels has seen devasting floods, and Jimmy has always been there to help. In the 1972 flood, while a junior in high school, he rescued people from roof tops in a dump truck. During the 1998 flood, Jimmy pulled a trailer through floodwaters for people to climb onto in the Las Brisas neighborhood. After practically every flood, Jimmy has worked to remove debris from homes and public lands -- not only throughout our community, but in others as well. There is no disaster too great or task too small. He has taken transformers to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, volunteered with clean-up efforts after the hurricane in Port Arthur, and volunteered with First Baptist Church’s chainsaw ministry.
Our community’s annual Wine and Sangerfest, Wassilfest, and the Soul-Searching cemetery tours all have benefited from Jimmy’s assistance with set-up and clean-up efforts. He has delivered playhouses for Hope Hospice, was instrumental in building the Christian Academy high school and Tree of Life Church, and continues to volunteer every year at the historic Comal County Fair and Rodeo.
For fifteen years, Jimmy has coached in the Upwards Basketball program. For over thirty years, he coached both Little League baseball and softball – not to mention the innumerable other jobs performed at the ballfield as a Little League volunteer. He has coached his kids, his grandkids, your kids, and even some of your grandkids. As importantly, he has worked with kids without parents by traveling to orphanages in Mexico for building projects and simply playing soccer with the children.
James Owens is a humble man with a twinkle in his eye and a servant’s heart. The New Braunfels Herald Zeitung recognized Jimmy’s exceptional resume when they named him an Unsung Hero in 2013. He shares the 2018 New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Service Award with his brother, John, for always being there to help with projects such as wild as removing an RV from the Comal River to assisting with renovations at putt-putt golf course.
The father of eleven children and grandfather of twenty-seven, Jimmy’s children follow in their father’s footsteps, and he is there to support their efforts. Whether it is helping daughter Jennifer with the Comal Cops for Kids fundraisers or assisting daughter Julianna in raising funds for an orphanage in Haiti, Jimmy is there to lend a hand. It is remarkable that during many of these endeavors, Jimmy was successfully battling cancer. When daughter Jasmin was recently diagnosed with cancer, Jimmy and family were there in full battle mode to defeat this dreadful disease.
The Owens family believes that each job undertaken does not just represent a project to be completed but instead represents a relationship, and a reputation, that reaches out into the future. The Braunfels Foundation Trust is proud to recognize and publicly thank Jimmy Owens for all the many completed projects that helped shaped and continues to maintain the landscape of New Braunfels.
Dr. Mitch Sacco
The population of New Braunfels in 1960 was a little over 15,000 when twenty-five-year-old Mitch Sacco moved here with his family. While New Braunfels added a new, enthusiastic young dentist, our community absolutely gained so very much more: a warm and generous man whose volunteer contributions to New Braunfels has earned him Living Legend status from the New Braunfels Foundation Trust.
Mitchell James Sacco, Jr., was born in Houston in1934 where his parents owned a family grocery store, Sacco Brothers Food Market. After graduating from St. Thomas High School and Loyola University in New Orleans, Mitch married Jean Eschenburg in 1955 and enrolled in the University of Texas Dental School in Houston. After completing dental school, Mitch, Jean, and their three children, Nancy, Mark, and Suzanne relocated to Camp Leroy in New Orleans where Captain Sacco served as an Army dentist.
After moving the family of six – son Chris was born in New Orleans -- to New Braunfels, the young dentist quickly got to work – both professionally and voluntarily. After joining the New Braunfels Rotary Club, the twenty-nine-year-old became its president in 1964. Mitch is credited with bringing the first District Conference to New Braunfels and becoming the first club president to attend a Rotary International Conference. In 1982, Mitch worked with fellow Rotarians to charter a new Rotary Club, and after nearly forty years, is still an active member of the Downtown Rotary Club of New Braunfels. He can still be found in the Rotary’s Wurstfest booth cooking the beloved Wurst-n-Taschen.
Mitch was also active in the New Braunfels Jaycees and was instrumental in establishing the New Braunfels Junior Miss program, a national non-profit scholarship program for high school seniors that thrived in New Braunfels for many years.
When Wurstfest became a part of the New Braunfels landscape, Mitch soon became a part of Wurstfest. As president of the Wurstfest Association, he worked with the Community Actors Theatre to create the Circle Arts Theatre from a converted warehouse on the Wurstfest grounds. Work on the walkway to the Comal River on the Wurstfest grounds was also begun during Mitch’s presidency. He continues to volunteer at Wurstfest despite his exempt status as an Opa Emeritus.
Mitch has been an active member of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce earning his Blue Coat in 1973 and serving as Chair of the Board in 1982. He was recognized with a Chair of the Board Award in the Field of Community Beautification for his work on Hinman Island and later honored with induction into the Hall of Honor.
Mitch has spent countless hours serving on committees that studied a bond election for school improvements, planned the 125th Anniversary of the founding of New Braunfels, and shifted our city’s government to its current city council, city manager system. He served on the boards of Guaranty State Bank, the McKenna Memorial Hospital, and then on the McKenna Foundation Board that supports and funds local charities.
A common thread in the fabric of Living Legends is their diversity of interests and Mitch is no exception. He has gone on a humanitarian mission to Mexico providing dental care in impoverished areas. He was deputized by Sheriff Walter Fellers and went on Saturday night ride-a-longs. Life-long members of the Sophienburg Museum and Museum of Handmade Furniture, both Mitch and Jean have spent countless hours working to help preserve the history and culture of New Braunfels. The couple were named Honorary Chairs of Folkfest in 2003.
As impressive as Mitch Sacco’s list of professional and community accomplishments is the fact they were undertaken while now raising five children -- daughter Michele was born in New Braunfels. Mitch, of course, got involved with their activities serving as Booster Club president, Babe Ruth Baseball president, and volunteered with the Boy Scouts, FFA, New Braunfels Little League, and PTA – just to name just a few.
Mitchell James Sacco, Jr., the father of five children, 16 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren with the engaging smile and keen business sense has passed his sense of duty and volunteerism on to his children – many of whom are also involved in our community. The Braunfels Foundation Trust is thankful Mitch Sacco bought a dental practice in our town: New Braunfels is a better place because of this Living Legend.