Former New Braunfels City Council member Ken Valentine, whose efforts led to the city’s ban on disposable containers in city limits, died Saturday following a lengthy illness, family members said. He was 76 years old.
Valentine, who served abbreviated terms on City Council between 2002 and 2007, was remembered Monday for his tenacity — not only on river issues but all that involved the city.
“Ken and I worked together at Shell from about 1971 or 1972 and I’ve known him since then,” Wayne Peters, District 5 council member and mayor pro tem said on Monday. “He was a hard worker — he studied all of the information before he made a decision. He was a good friend.”
Claudia Valentine said her husband suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, which became worse over the years and led to his decline in recent weeks. She said a memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 572 W. San Antonio Street in New Braunfels.
Valentine earned a chemical engineering degree at New York University in 1964 and a MBA from the University of Houston in 1973. A retired Shell Oil Company executive, Valentine moved to the city in the late 1990s. He and his wife lived on the Comal River, and he became incensed with the trash and rowdy behavior occurring there during the summers.
He became active in city affairs and served on several city committees, including as chair of the River Activities Committee, before he announced for — and was unopposed in winning the District 6 council seat in 2002.
In 2003, Valentine led a petition effort that led to Proposition 3, an outright ban on aluminum beverage containers on the city’s rivers and streams, which failed by a 3 to 1 margin. It led to his losing a 2005 reelection bid to political newcomer Lynn Limmer by 13 votes.
Valentine returned to council seven months later after Limmer’s resigned while under investigation into charges of embezzlement that led to a 15-month federal prison sentence.
In 2007, Valentine was targeted by opponents of the city’s proposed “can ban,” and was recalled that May by 70 votes. It took another four years before New Braunfels voters overwhelmingly approved disposable container and cooler size ordinances, which went into effect in 2012.
“He was one of the most vocal proponents of the ban, but what got him into trouble is that he was perceived as spending most of his time on river issues and nothing else,” Peters said. “But the truth is, he spent more time on city issues than anyone else.”
Even some of those who disagreed with Valentine on issues, spoke highly of him as a person.
“I am very sorry to hear of Mr. Valentine’s passing. Ken was a passionate advocate for the causes he believed in and worked hard to serve the people who shared his views,” said Comal County Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Webb, who differed with Valentine while both served on the city’s River Activities Committee.
“While we had disagreements about the ways to get things accomplished, through the years we often saw one another at the post office or around town and he never failed to greet me cheerfully, ask me about my family, and update me on his family — of which he was supremely proud. More than anything I hope and pray for peace for them.”
After he left council, Valentine remained an active voice in city politics and issues, including as a frequent contributor to the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. He spoke out against the outfitters’ suit that halted enforcement of river ordinances between 2014 and 2018.
“He kept speaking out on those issues, especially sending letters to the editor,” Peters said. “And what he talked about wasn’t only about the river. Despite being recalled he was always concerned about the well being of the city.
“Of course, he never liked all the loud music and trash on the river, as many of us who live there don’t like. But he was just more vocal about it than most.”