ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Lee Park, named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, officially changed it’s name. The park is now named Coach James Valentine Park, named after the late Abilene teacher and coach James E. Valentine, also known as Coach Val.
David Pittman, Chairman of the Abilene Parks and Recreation Board, said the city changed the name to bring attention to local heroes.
“The whole purpose of this renaming is about honoring an Abilenean. A coach that meant so much to so many people in Abilene Texas. That’s a reflection on this community that an individual that had such an impact on so many lives here,” said Pittman.
James E. Valentine served in World War II. After being discharged as a veteran, he moved back to Abilene in 1956. He taught and coached at Woodson High School and later Jefferson Middle School. His family, friends, and students, keep his legacy alive through his wisdom and character.
The idea of renaming Lee park started earlier this year. James Valentine, Coach Val’s son, said from the moment his family found out about the park potentially being named after their late father, things quickly progressed and the next thing he knew, he was looking at the new park title.
He said that if his father was here to see this great honor, he would be proud.
“He would be over in a corner somewhere unassuming. It would be hard to get him to say anything. He’s quiet and I’m thinking he would be crying, I know that for sure. But he would say he didn’t think he was deserving of it — he was just doing his job,” said Valentine.
Coach Val’s family is overjoyed those who knew him have the park as a reminder of his accomplishments. They are hopeful those who did not meet him have the opportunity to learn about him.