DONNA — Once upon a time Don Koenig (oe is pronounced like a long a) had a dream and his dad helped him reach that dream. He wanted to own his own business and he wanted that to be an RV Park.
Don and his mother, Mary, bought a cabin and an RV park near New Braunfels which they ran for 12 years. When Don’s dad, Don, retired, he joined them. A summer business, it catered to locals from around south Texas coming to be near Canyon Lake for vacation. Families would come and bring their frustrations of work and life with them.
“It was a more confrontational type of crowd,” said Judy Koenig-Hardy, Don’s younger sister by 12 years.
One year they decided they had had enough.
“Let’s go south and have a winter park which will leave our summers free,” they all decided.
They found their dream spot in Donna — out in the country. Koenig’s Winter Resort was about a quarter of their current size but they knew this was it. 30 years later it’s about 10 acres with 100 lots.
Always leaving a little staff to watch over the park, Don and his parents would head out in their RV to sights unknown, always keeping an eye out for ways to improve their park.
“They took all the best of all the parks they really liked and tried to incorporate it here,” said Judy. “The spaces are very wide and there’s a lot of trees and greenery.”
The three ran the park until 2001 when Dad Don passed away at 88, after 62 years of marriage.
“He’d had a long, good life,” Judy said. “That left my brother, who was 58, and my mother to run the park.”
When Don died in 2002 Judy made the decision to leave her long, successful career and take hold of the reins, moving to the Valley to work with her 82-year-old mom.
The park was kept full with returning clientele.
“The people bring me back. We have so much fun here,” said Barbara Banks, a work-camper and resident of the park. “It’s like family. If we’re not playing cards, we’re eating. A walk around the park might take an hour because everybody is outside talking.”
An active Purple Hat group, outings to restaurants and other visitor sites like the zoo in Brownsville, their annual pet show and cookouts keep the park hopping.
“We’re open to change,” said Barbara. “When we get new people, new ideas, the older residents accept it and we all work together to figure it out. Everything is great.”
“We’re one of the last of a dying breed-a Mom and Pop type operation,” said Judy. “We don’t have a lot of fancy amenities but I think we have some of the friendliest people here and I know we have the best cooks in the Valley.”
With the passing of her mother in 2007, Judy said the people of the park are her main family now - her last brother far off in California. Work-campers, Don and Barb, help her keep the park running smoothly.
“During our main season — mid-December to March — I’m full. I turn people away every year. It’s just word of mouth. This was their dream and they worked on it very hard. I get to enjoy the fruits of all their labor. I’m very blessed - I’m the one who gets to be here,” Judy said, with a wistful smile.
The Koenig Winter Resort lives on — family owned and operated — for as long as they last.