Longtime Victoria County clerk dies at 93
Val Huvar, who became a fixture at the Victoria County Courthouse over the course of five decades as the county clerk, died Thursday. He was 93.
Friends, family and colleagues reflected Friday on his long life, sometimes austere demeanor and how under it all, he was a man with a quirky frog collection who earned the respect of many in Victoria and the state.
His daughter, Carolyn Wright, 64, said he was a compassionate man.
"I still remember his sign, 'Vote for Val Huvar,' on his truck when he first started campaigning back in 1954," she said.
She was 5 years old at the time and said his service to the county brought a sense of pride and responsibility to her and her siblings.
"I know sometimes people didn't see him that way because he did speak his own mind, especially in his later years - he spoke his mind no matter who was around," she said. "It didn't bother him if you liked it or not. He was always truthful."
In the foyer of the courthouse Friday, Kay Posey and Anna Longoria set up a memorial, including photos of Huvar's first and last days with the county, a resolution honoring him for his service to the community and two green frog statues peeking around picture frames.
Wright gave him his first frog.
As soon as the collection started, friends, county officials and visitors began bringing him frog souvenirs almost every time they stopped by.
"He probably had more than 300," Wright said.
Chief Deputy County Clerk Betty Tovar remembers the day Huvar hired her in 1978 and his unusual amphibian collection.
She was working at J.C. Penney Co. when he called asking when she planned to come to work.
"I didn't know I was hired," Tovar joked.
Huvar had already been with the county for 25 years by that point and Tovar was about 25 years old.
"He had a real gruff disposition - that was just his personality," Tovar said. "But under that, he was a sweet, nice guy."
She said Huvar taught her the ins-and-outs of the county laws concerning their office and how to deal with customers.
"Where I am today is because of him," she said.
He helped hire and worked with many of the county officials still around today, including Elections Administrator George Matthews.
"He wanted to make sure that everything you did, you did right," Matthews said.
Huvar is recognized as the longest serving county clerk in Texas.
Former County Commissioner Jerry Nobles said Huvar was known for his integrity and dedication to Victoria.
"Mr. Huvar was one of the finest elected officials I worked with during my almost 24 years of service with the county," he said.
County Judge Don Pozzi said he considered Huvar a personal friend. They worked together for 41 years while Pozzi was an attorney and later county judge.
"I've known Mr. Huvar for most of my life," Pozzi said. "He was probably the most knowledgeable county clerk in the state of Texas and the longest running county clerk we've had in this county. He was a valuable asset to the county for many years."
Pozzi said Victoria County misses him.
"He was a great man," Pozzi said. "He certainly will be missed by the whole community."
Gene Terry, Executive Director of Texas Association of Counties, said in a prepared statement that Huvar was an institution in the county and an inspiration to other Texas county officials.
"He was more than just a great county clerk," Terry said. "He was a role model and mentor for many of his fellow clerks."
Throughout his career with the county, Huvar was an eyewitness to the county's phenomenal growth and was instrumental in bringing the office into the computer age.
Huvar served in the U.S. Air Force from Dec. 31, 1941, to Feb. 5, 1946, and achieved the rank of master sergeant.
He married his wife, Luella, in 1947 and raised four children: Charlotte, Carolyn, Dennis and Michael. He has 10 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
He has received many recognitions, including the papal award Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice, bestowed on him by Pope Paul VI in recognition of his loyalty to the Catholic church. The American Legion recognized him for 50 years of continuous membership, and he was honored as clerk of the year in 1970.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Although the family took the news hard, his son, Michael Huvar, 60, said it was time.
"He was ready," Michael Huvar said. "He told me before he didn't know why the Good Lord was keeping him on Earth. The Good Lord didn't have him settled down yet. ... When He's ready he'll come get you."
Huvar's son said he talks to people in the community who love and miss the clerk who served so long.
"He knew practically everybody in Mission Valley and Nursery," his son said.
As for the frogs, Huvar gave many to his coworkers before he left office.
"We've got the rest out in boxes," his son said. "He said, 'Do what y'all want with them, divide them up or whatever.' It's something to remember him by."