ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Lee Park will be renamed after Coach E. James Valentine on October 21.
Lee Park was named after General Robert E. Lee Elementary school. After the school changed its name to Stafford Elementary in 2021, the park will now be dedicated Coach James Valentine Park.
Valentine, also known as “Coach Val,” served in World War Two and became a veteran in 1945. He attended Wiley College, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Biology in 1952.
Valentine returned to his home town Gonzales, Texas, where he coached the football team and taught at Edwards High School. He returned to Abilene with his family in 1956, where he taught and coached at Woodson High School. Both the track and football teams competed at playoffs many times, including the District Championship in District 1AA Negro High School Division in 1958.
After Woodson closed, Valentine taught and coached at Jefferson Middle School and coached youth flag football.
Valentine was also the manger for the only public city pool, Stevenson pool, from 1956 to 1979 and worked to teach children how to swim.
The parks re-dedication will take place on October 21 at 10:00 a.m. at 1317 North Pioneer Drive. Abilene Parks and Recreation invites the community to attend on the event page on Facebook.