Public schooling has been available to residents of Public Corpus Christi for over a century. As the schools grew from rented spaces to aptly named buildings like Corpus Christi High School, the district found ways to honor outstanding citizens by naming schools after them. From city-wide figures of national importance to local teachers, principals and school board members, each of these citizens of Corpus Christi did notable work worthy of the honor of being a school’s namesake.
Kostoryz (1866-1924) was a newspaperman who sold his paper and moved to settle in Corpus Christi in 1904 after searching for a place to form a Czech community. He named his property Bohemian Colony Lands, after his native Bohemia (part of today’s Czech Republic). Like any new South Texas community, it needed a school, which he was instrumental in starting. This land and its school were eventually annexed into Corpus Christi, and the Corpus Christi Independent School District (CCISD) honored him with the building of today’s Kostoryz Elementary in 1965 to replace the old four-room Kostoryz School.
Dr. Moody (1908-1965) was a veteran of WWII, having served in the Army Medical Corps in Europe. During the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, he and other medical personnel were flown in via glider under enemy fire to aid injured soldiers. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions, the nation’s third-highest military combat decoration. Back in Corpus Christi, he saw patients in his medical practice; served as president of the Nueces County Medical Society and on several other medical boards; and served a seven-year term on the CCISD School Board.
Menger (1860-1920) did not have a clear path to an honor such as this. He was born in Canada with the surname Umbach and used that name to move to the United States and serve in the U.S. Army. After just over a year, he deserted to return to Canada. When he next returned to the U.S., it was as Moses Menger, who was a model citizen. He taught in several other cities before settling in as a math teacher, then principal, for Corpus Christi High School. He later served as superintendent and is remembered as one of the best mathematical minds in Texas.
Rev. Grant (1919-1991) served as pastor of St. Matthew Baptist Church on the Northside from 1962 to 1988. He was active in the Civil Rights movement and was an advocate for affordable housing. Grant served as chairman of the city’s Human Relations Commission after he and Rev. Harold Branch (who also has a school named for him) helped to calm racial tensions amid a near-riot in 1970. He was the first Black man to serve on the school board and was elected president of the board in 1984.
Galvan (1887-1966) was the first Mexican-American police officer in the city, an experience that inspired him to work for more societal change as a founding member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). He began his time as a businessman as the owner of a dry goods store, but he’s best known for opening the Galvan Ballroom, which provided integrated spaces for dancing and music when other ballrooms were segregated by race.
Haas’ (1915-2008) role as president and trustee of the CCISD School Board is only one of the lasting impacts of his life. He served on education committees at the state and national levels, and was a member of civic and economic development groups to further the quality and stability of the Corpus Christi economy. Haas’ service on a variety of nonprofit boards included gifts of his own: He and his wife founded the Paul and Mary Haas Foundation to support their community. Among its gifts was a founding gift to start the Coastal Bend Community Foundation, which manages gifts for hundreds of donors.
Barnes (1873-1962) dedicated her entire adult life to education and retired from CCISD after 42 years. According to her obituary, her entry to the classroom came when the teacher at her Flour Bluff school was called away, and Barnes was asked to step up to fill the position at 18 years old. She taught in Flour Bluff and La Fruita near Mathis before starting at CCISD as a teacher at Corpus Christi High School, then Northside Junior High. Barnes served as a principal at that school, then as registrar of the high school before retiring after 42 years with CCISD. She was originally honored with Ella Barnes Junior High, from 1956-1976, before her name was again chosen for an elementary school that opened in 1992.
Dr. Yeager (1875-1960) practiced medicine in Corpus Christi for almost 50 years. When he arrived in 1906, Corpus Christi had a population of 4,500. He was the Nueces County Medical Association’s “Man of the Year” in 1950. Outside his practice, he served in many civic roles including on the city council, as a school trustee and as president of the school board for six years. Yeager advocated for the founding and growth of Del Mar College to ensure a local college choice for local students.
E.E. (1905-1987) and Jovita (1904-1983) are each worthy of this honor in their own right. She was a pioneering folklorist who collected stories of Mexican folklore from the Rio Grande Valley, along with publishing scholarly pieces on her borderlands research. She taught for 21 years at W.B. Ray and Miller High Schools, and was the first Hispanic woman to be named president of the Texas Folklore Society.
With the 1941 repeal of the Texas law that made it illegal to teach Spanish in public schools, he started and ran the CCISD Spanish language program for more than two decades, and came to be recognized as one of the founders of bilingual education in Texas. Together, they published bilingual textbooks and curriculums to teach not only language, but culture, literature and history to the thousands of students enrolled in the program.