Lewisville’s longest serving mayor was honored with a building in his name, and it was the idea of a 17 year old.
Gene Carey was deeply involved in Lewisville from his time on city council starting in 1993, through his years as mayor and even afterward. He died in April of 2016, and hundreds packed Lakeland Baptist Church for his funeral. He had taught Sunday school there for over 25 years.
The Lewisville City Council unanimously approved the renaming of the city’s animal shelter in Carey’s honor at the July 17 meeting. The Gene Carey Animal Shelter and Adoption Center honors Carey’s service to the city not just as mayor but on the city’s Animal Services Advisory Board.
According to a memo from City Manager Donna Barron, Carey said one of his proudest achievements as mayor was advocating for construction of the new animal shelter, which opened in 2012.
Macy Kunke, the daughter of James Kunke, Lewisville’s community relations and tourism director, said that she came up with the idea of naming something after Carey while on a recent road trip with her parents.
Now a senior at Lewisville High School, Macy said she was about three years old when her family moved to Lewisville for her dad’s job. She said that Carey would always talk to her and ask her dad how she was doing.
At various city functions and festivals when James was working, Macy said she would seek out Carey. She said he was easy to find with his boots, silver belt buckle and hat.
She remembers riding with Carey in the mayor’s car in various parades over the years. One of her fond memories of Carey was at a party celebrating the anniversary of city hall where Carey invited her to join him in singing “Happy Birthday” to the city.
Macy asked her father whether he could do anything about getting something named after Gene Carey. When she learned that only the city council could name a facility after him, she got Council Member TJ Gilmore’s email address. While still on the road, she sent Gilmore an email proposing to rename the animal shelter after Carey.
Gilmore quickly put the idea on the city council’s agenda. “I looked at it and I went ‘Well, that’s a no-brainer,’” Gilmore said.
At Monday night’s city council meeting, Macy told the council that Carey was a very present part of her life as a child.
“Despite not being born in Lewisville, I can think of few others who loved this city the way he did. He saw the art center and city hall opened and was perhaps the most important advocate of the animal shelter,” she said.
“Mayor Gene Carey was always present — in everything from council meetings to festivals. And I believe that his name should always be present in our city’s proud history — which is why I’m in full support of Lewisville Animal Shelter being renamed and dedicated to Mayor Gene Carey.”
The council passed the name change with a unanimous 4-0 vote. Mayor Rudy Durham thanked the Carey family for being present at city council and said “Gene’s really going to enjoy this.”
Carey’s widow Irene Carey told The Lewisville Texan Journal that she thought Gene would have felt flattered and very honored to have the shelter named after him. She agreed that it was fitting.
Irene said that her husband always had dogs, and had even gotten one from the Lewisville shelter. She said that he had a dog growing up that he took with him when he went to college.
In his time with the city, Gene Carey would ride along with police K-9 units. He was always interested in both the police and fire dogs.
“The family feels like it’s a big honor, and they all want to thank the city,” Irene said.
New signage has yet to be ordered, and a date has not yet been set for a dedication.