Loud and proud
HALLETTSVILLE - Carl "Juno" Werner's booming voice cuts through even the polka music blaring from the radio in Besetsny's Kountry Bakery.
It isn't so much what Werner is saying, but how he says it, loud and laughing.
"I've always been like that," the 66-year-old said. "I don't know why because my father's not. I've always been outspoken like I am now."
This personality trait attracts friends and repels detractors.
"He's humorous, but some people don't know how to take him. A lot of people don't care for him, and he'll tell you if he doesn't like you," said Tom Hermes, a regular coffee drinker at Kountry Bakery who has known Werner for about 15 years.
"Living here all my life I had always heard his name," Hermes said. "Not long after I met him, I had just bought a motorcycle and suggested he buy a little bike and go along on a ride with a group of us. He went out and bought a Harley and fell right in."
Werner's roots run deep in Hallettsville.
A 1960 graduate of Sacred Heart High School, Werner, whose grandfather owned the first icehouse in town, played one year of football at Southwest Texas State University before tearing up a knee.
He then joined the Army and spent three years as a medic at the burn unit in San Antonio. That work inspired him to continue in the medical field. Werner became a registered nurse in 1968 and worked for 22 years in surgery at the Downtown Baptist Hospital in San Antonio.
He then went to work for Storz, selling microscopic medical instruments in Victoria, Austin and San Antonio. When his route changed to Houston, Werner quit and came back to Hallettsville, where he owned a farm.
"I've been back here 15 years, and it seems like 30. So it's like living longer. Nothing happens fast here," chuckled Werner.
Upon his return to his hometown, Werner opened a Mexican restaurant aptly named Juno's.
"It's just a nickname," he said. "Growing up, we had a lady who worked for us who called me 'Juna.' I am a junior, and she just mispronounced it."
Werner, whose cousin owns the popular Werner's Restaurant in Shiner, stayed in the restaurant business seven years. He got out after his 43-year-old cook died in a house fire.
"I got tired of the restaurant business," Werner admitted. "But I tell you one thing. After I quit working in Houston, I've never done anything I didn't like to do."
And what he likes to do now is enjoy semi-retirement while spending mornings delivering pastries for the Kountry Bakery. He and owner David Besetsny met about five years ago when Besetsny asked Werner to go to a biker rally in Somerville.
Werner delivers the bakery's kolaches and pigs to other eateries in the area, including in LaGrange, Weimar, Schulenburg and Edna. He has a daily route delivering orders.
"People recognize me everywhere I go," he said.
And most likely hear him coming, too.
The Character of the Crossroads is a regular series about the people who make our region special. Next we visit with a 90-year-old barber who still cuts hair in Port O'Connor. To suggest a character, call 361-574-1222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.