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Three inducted into museum’s Hall of Heroes

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  • Th ree inducted into museum’s Hall of Heroes
    Texas Heroes Hall of Honor inductees (left to right) Leon Coffee, Frances Kaiser and Mary McGroarty (accepted by son James McGroarty). BULLETIN PHOTO/Tracy Thayer

The Frontier Times Museum inducted three new members to the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor on Friday, July 22: bullfighter, rodeo barrel man and rodeo clown Leon Coffee; Bandera businesswoman Mary McGroarty’ and Medina native and first woman sheriff of Kerr County Frances Kaiser.

The event was set at the outdoor stage on the Museum grounds. Over 100 people attended the ceremony. Local musician Lew Pewterbaugh provided cowboy music before the ceremony began.

Museum Board President Ann Hevenor welcomed the audience and retired Bandera ISD teacher Jerry Neuenschwander sang the national anthem; American Legion Post 157 provided a color guard. Master of Ceremonies Russell Hevenor began the event with a brief history of the National Day of the American Cowboy.

The first inductee recognized was Frances Kaiser. Mrs. Kaiser is a Medina native. While she had many accomplishments, the most notable was being the first woman elected sheriff of Kerr County. She served two terms as Kerr County Sheriff.

Kaiser also attended the 1998 Women in Power Millennium Dinner in Washington D.C. with many notable women like Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell. Mrs. Kaiser is writing a book which will be published shortly about her experiences as a sheriff in Texas. Mrs. Kaiser called this honor “the icing on the cake of my life. I feel very blessed.”

Mary McGroarty was recognized posthumously for her contributions to the Bandera community. Mrs. McGroarty immigrated from Ireland to Bandera in 1951. She and her husband Patrick owned the M. Boyle Mercantile and the O.S.T. restaurant.

McGroarty ran the O.S.T. for 38 years. Mrs. McGroarty helped establish the Bandera County Historical Commission. She was instrumental in the placement of a historical marker on the old First State Bank. An avid member of the St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, she helped prepare the altar for several decades. Mrs. McGroarty’s son James accepted the honor in her name.

The final inductee was Leon Coffee. Mr. Coffee is a notable rodeo clown, bullfighter and barrel man. This legendary rodeo performer was recognized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association as well as being a PRCA Clown of the Year recipient.

Coffee has been inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. He has accrued many honors throughout his 40-year career and said, “it is a great honor to be in the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor.”

The ceremony was sponsored by the Spirits of Texas. In-kind sponsors were Hevenor Lumber and Hardware, TXN Bank and Teresa Kolodny Photography. Accommodations were provided by Best Western Bandera Suites and Saloon.

At the end of the ceremony, the inductees and guests were invited to tour the museum and view the exhibits honoring Kaiser, McGroarty and Coffee.