By BILL PETERSON
Editor at Large
KYLE – The city lost one of its greats Saturday morning with the passing of retired City Secretary Minerva Falcon, the woman who brought Santa Claus and fireworks to Kyle, basically ran the government and preserved the city’s institutional memory for three decades.
Falcon reportedly died after surgery following an unspecified illness. Her death took place on the morning after Kyle put on the Fourth of July fireworks show she created. Falcon was 57.
“It was with great shock and sadness we received this news about our friend and co-worker, Minerva,” Kyle City Manager Tom Mattis said. “She was one of a kind and made a personal impact on Kyle that will last forever. She was truly a pioneer in local government and will remain a historic figure in terms of her positive impact on our city. Our prayers go out to her family,”
Falcon kept and maintained the city council minutes, advertised legal notices, codified new ordinances, administered oaths and managed the city’s elections. When the votes were totaled, Falcon announced the results on the front step of the old city hall. She spoke to government for people who didn’t know how and spoke to people government didn’t know how to reach.
In 32 years with the city, Falcon served under ten mayors and dozens of councilmembers. As mayors, councilmembers and city managers came and went, Falcon gave the city government a measure of ballast and continuity. While Kyle’s population increased ten-fold to 25,000 during her last 15 years, ending with her retirement in January 2007, Falcon enabled the city to maintain a cheerful level of service even when rapid growth over-matched the city’s limited staff.
In the two years since Kyle moved its administration to the new city hall at Front and Center Streets, the city has added a publicity director, an assistant city manager, a planning director, an economic development director and a human resources director, among other positions. But until that move, the city’s administrative staff basically consisted of Falcon and, before Mattis came along in 2002, a part-time city manager.
It fell to Falcon to keep the wheels running smoothly through the years of transition. In short, Falcon was the seat of government in Kyle.
“Minerva was more than just a city employee,” Mattis said. “She was an institution and she will be missed.”
The city wouldn’t let her retire in January 2007 without naming the new city hall’s community room in her honor. The room is called The Minerva Falcon Community Room.
Visitation will take place Tuesday at the Pennington Funeral Home in San Marcos from 6-8 p.m. Funeral services will take place at Kyle First Baptist Church, Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Kyle will close its city hall Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. so the city staff can attend the services.
“On behalf of the Kyle City Council, I ask that our citizens take a moment to remember and honor our former city secretary,” Kyle Mayor Mike Gonzalez said. “Her dedication to the citizens of Kyle served as a constant reminder of the great good government could do for people. She was a true ‘favorite daughter’ of Kyle and my friend. She will be missed.”
Falcon began her career with Kyle in 1975 as a utility clerk, working her way through the ranks to city secretary. She also served as executive director when the city established the Kyle Housing Authority.
Falcon took her first job in Kyle so she could spend more time with her husband, Jesse, and her family. She never counted on becoming the keeper of Kyle’s institutional flame.
“When I started working for the city, I thought this would be a job where I’d get some training and move on, never imagining that this would be my career and staying here for 32 years,” Falcon said shortly before her retirement.
In addition to carrying out many of the city’s institutional functions, Falcon also brought to Kyle an air of festivity. She was instrumental in Santa Claus’ visit every December and took a large role in the city’s charming Christmas decorations on the city square.
In 2000, Falcon added another wrinkle by prevailing on the city council to spring for Fourth of July Fireworks. The show has grown steadily through the years and now draws thousands.
“I went to the city council and asked for $5,000 for a fireworks show,” Falcon said. “They didn’t think fireworks would be a good use of that kind of money and they almost didn’t approve the expenditure.”
Falcon left her position in Kyle with but one regret, which is as fresh as today’s headlines. She wanted the city to make something special of its historic city hall on the town square. The city is considering a plan to renovate the abandoned facility.
“If I had it to do all over again,” Falcon said just before her retirement, “one of the things I would like to have seen is that the old city hall building become a museum.”
Falcon is survived by her husband of 38 years, Jesse Falcon, along with four children, three grandchildren, two brothers, four sisters and numerous nieces and nephews.
“She was everything to the family,” Falcon’s obituary said. “Minerva was the center of the family’s lives. She had the answer to every question. A great void has been left behind. The love she gave to the family is immeasurable.”
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