Victoria County Clerk reaches end of his term after serving 56 years
Dec. 30, 2010 at 6:30 a.m.
The office walls are bare, and the 300 frog knickknacks that have been conversation pieces for years are packed up and gone.
And 91-year-old Val Huvar, who occupied the office for decades, will no longer be the state's longest-serving county clerk. Ousted from office by Robert Cortez this year, Huvar is moving back to the private life after 56 years of public service.
"I do have reservations about leaving," he said. "But in an elected office, you have no guarantees about staying there."
After coming to work and parking his gray Cadillac in front of the courthouse all those years, Huvar said he plans to retire to his 82 acres on the Guadalupe River off the Lower Mission Valley Road.
He's been there since 1949.
But Huvar said he hasn't given much thought to what he'll be doing in retirement, other than oversleeping.
How would Huvar like to be remembered?
"Don't go there," he said. "I don't want to be remembered."
But others are willing to go there.
Kevin Janak, Huvar's neighbor and county commissioner, said Huvar's wealth of knowledge and great personality have made him an asset to the county.
"He's forgot more than I'll ever know," he said. "I really appreciate him tutoring me over the past four years. I'm going to miss him."
Gina Howard, who has worked for Huvar since 1993, said she'll remember Huvar for training his employees well. She said he taught them to pay attention to details and to learn the statutes dealing with the county clerk's office.
"His big important thing is making sure we get up and helped the customers and that they went away happy," Howard said.
While cleaning out his desk, Huvar ran across a card sent to him by one of those satisfied customers.
"Mr. Huvar, we have never met and I doubt we ever will," she wrote. "But the few times I've been in the clerk's office, I've always been impressed with your office."
Huvar said the people of Victoria County have been good to him and he's tried to provide them with the service they deserve.
"I just feel like I've got one of the top offices in the state, and the customers say it, too," he said.
One of his proudest accomplishments was computerizing the clerk's office beginning in 1989. Huvar said all the records have been computerized for real property, marriages, and criminal and civil cases back to 1838.
Huvar modestly said he didn't know what influence he had in shaping the county because there was no one to influence. But he has worked with six county judges during his time in office, taking them under his wing and tutoring them.
"I did have to teach some of them right along, which I did," he said. "I think together what we did, we made Victoria County what it is today."
In an interesting twist, it was a judge who helped Huvar get involved in politics in 1954.
He was working as a teller at Victoria National Bank when County Judge P.P. Putney approached him and urged him to run for office.
"I had expectations a couple of years before that," he said. "But he came to me then and told me it's not time to run."
Huvar said he became interested in politics because of his dad, who was a city alderman for 16 years.
Even though Huvar is ending a career that has spanned most of his life, he said it has been a good run.
"I have no regrets," he said.