Lorna Drake, now in her nineties, taught for decades at Forestville School and has been active in any number of local and regional organizations. When she joined a group, she went all in, often taking a leadership role.
All of this was gratefully acknowledged a couple of Saturdays ago when a good number of us gathered in the Maggie Boynton Forum Room of the Guerneville Library to honor Lorna for her 32 years as a member of the Library Advisory Board. This all-volunteer board meets monthly, supports the local library with book sales and bake sales and passes ideas on to the Sonoma County Library Commission for their consideration.
Bruce Robinson, president of River Friends of the Library, served as master of ceremonies, introducing a number of Lorna Drake fans and well-wishers, including Library Commissioner Deborah Doyle, who presented Lorna with a letter of thanks from the commission. Jim Fullmer, formerly River Ranger on KGGV Radio, brought greetings from his wife Nancy, KGGV’s Sister Glitz, who right then was at her job in the Occidental Library. Nancy wanted Lorna to know how much she appreciated her mentoring and friendship over the years.
Led by their president, Nancy Rogers-Zegarra, a group from the honorary teachers society Delta Kappa Gamma presented a large card with greetings and signatures all over it. Yes, Lorna was a long time member of that group as well. Arline Jones told of Lorna’s unfailing dedication to the Community Church, and River Historian in Residence John Schubert praised Lorna for not only participating in the Russian River Historical Society but also for her careful research into bygone happenings.
This led to a discussion of how Lorna helped answer the question raised some years ago by early River historian
C. Raymond Clar. Clar wanted to know why there were two Protestant Churches in Guerneville in the mid-1890s, when the area was populated by scattered souls barely getting by in the lumber camps and hard scrabble ranches round about.
There was a thriving Methodist church at the time, and it was well known that for some reason a group split off from that congregation to form the Guerneville Community Church. Looking into it, we found that Methodists in those days urged members not to let alcoholic beverages pass their lips. Our thought was that maybe the breakaway group didn’t like that idea at all.
I remember calling John Schubert about it, and he asked, “Do we know who the people were who left the Methodist Church?” I said, “Lorna Drake listed them in her history of the Community Church, and I have the list right here.”
“Read me the names,” John said. So I went down the list, and to each name John exclaimed, “He was no teetotaler! Furthermore, the new church met upstairs from a tavern in the Knights Templars Hall. I think we’ve filled in one of the blanks.”
So, thanks to Lorna’s records, we likely pinned down the answer to Raymond Clar’s question, though I’m not sure she is all that happy with the answer we got. I’m not sure I am either, but there you go.
When we got to town in the 1960s, the Guerneville Library was a small room in the Vets Hall, which had been the old Guerneville School. Then in 1981, an architecturally pleasing new library was built on high ground across from the Fire Station, a truly comfortable and inviting place. Now you can do all sorts of internet things there as well as read books and journals, and the staff will guide you to what you need and answer your questions. Thanks to Lorna Drake, they can even tell you how the Guerneville Community Church got started back in 1895.
Bob Jones is the former minister of the Guerneville and Monte Rio Community Church.