Museum, historical society name 'dean of medicine' annual history pioneer
Dr. Edward Neal was honored in 2019 by the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society with its annual History Pioneer Award.
Neal is credited as the “dean of Healdsburg medicine.” He operated his family medical practice beginning in 1964 up to his retirement. He is credited with delivering over 1,000 babies and was instrumental in the formation of Healdsburg’s free medical clinic, now the Alliance Medical Center.
At the September reception at the Villa Chanticleer, Neal was roasted by his fellow doctors and friends Doug Pile and David Anderson. The two men shared several stories about Neal and how he always viewed his patient as a whole family or household and not just one individual.
Neal spearheaded a community drive to build a new hospital that was opened in 1972. At the ribbon cutting, Neal said, “this hospital is so good it’s almost worth getting sick to get into.”
Neal was honored along with his wife Marge and his four adult children, three of which have followed him into the medical profession.
The History Pioneer award is given each year. Past recipients have included many wine industry trailblazers, former elected officials, business community leaders and local humanitarians.
WE’RE NO. 1 — Businesses across multiple categories came out to the Villa Chanticleer on Aug. 8, 2019 to find out who won the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce’s Best of Healdsburg Business Awards. Al the honorees were nominated by the people of Healdsburg, and final voting was tallied among chamber business members. Chamber board president Alan Baker, of Cartograph Wines and chamber CEO Tallia Hart handed out the awards.
STRAIGHT TALKER — David Lewers died on Feb. 6 following a brief illness.
David Lewers, a homegrown Healdsburg boy and royal champion of Sonoma County agriculture, pictured below mid-antic during an annual Healdsburg Future Farmers Country Fair junior livstock auction, died Feb. 6, 2019, following a brief illness. Lewers served multiple terms on both the HFFC Fair and Sonoma County Fair boards. He donated countless hours over decades to local youth and agricultural programs. He graduated from Healdsburg High School in 1972 and never ventured very far from Healdsburg, except for long hunting and fishing trips. He operated the family ranch above Lake Sonoma on Kelly Road. An overflowing memorial service was held Feb. 26 at Trione Winery, one day before the record flood along the Russian River.
A decade of Sunrise jesters
Club members and distinguished guests of the Rotary of Healdsburg Sunrise Club celebrated "A Night of Fools" on April 1, 2019 at Coyote Sonoma, marking the club's 10th anniversary. King George Dutton (pictured), the club's first president, served as master of ceremonies. Also pictured is Rotary District 5130 District Governor Barbara Spangler (at left) and District Governor-select Kathy Flamson. During the evening the club presented special awards to Kim and John Lloyd, owners of Big John's Market, State Sen. Mike McGuire, a club member; Fourth District County Supervisor James Gore and retiring Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carla Howell, also a club member. The current club president is Colleen Carmichael.
Tim Meinken, winery owner and council candidate, dies in May
One of Healdsburg’s most active citizens, Tim Meinken, died on May 23.
He twice ran for Healdsburg City Council and was a key member of the Healdsburg 2040 (Sustainable Design Assessment Team) efforts during the past two years.
He was the owner of Gordian Knot Winery with his wife and partner Anne Giere.
A strong testament to his character was voiced in the tributes shared upon his death by a few of his political rivals on the Healdsburg scene.
“I am so sad our town lost his voice, his conviction and his experience,” said former Mayor Brigette Mansell. “Tim was good man who stood up for people over profit.”
Originally from Chicago, Meinken moved to Sonoma County in 1989 and after relocating first to San Francisco.
Healdsburg honors passing of three town matriarchs
Separate memorial services were held early in January 2019 for three of Healdsburg’s grandest matriarchs, who died days apart in December 2018.
Vivian Santucci, 100, died on Dec. 23; Beuklah McCaffrey, 97, died on Christmas Eve; and Brandt Family matriarch Mary Brandt, 93, died on Christmas Day surrounded by her large family.
The Brandt family, like the McCaffrey and Santucci names, were synonymous with a different era in Healdsburg when the town was smaller and moved more slowly, but was also an important hub of timber, gravel and manufacturing. The Santuccis ran the local newspaper, the McCaffreys were educators and sports coaches and the Brandt family was in the insurance business as well as volunteers in Soroptimist, Cub Scouts, the Republican Party, Russian River Property Owners Association and Friends of Lake Sonoma.
Mary Patricia Wattles was born on Aug. 29, 1925 and was a Healdsburg native who attended Healdsburg High School, before attending two years at San Jose State University. She left college to marry Milton Franklin “Milt” Brandt and start a family, which forever became the center of her life.
2019 brings change in top leadership at Healdsburg Chamber
Tallia Hart, a former executive with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, was selected as the new CEO of the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce in September. She replaced Carla Howell, who had announced her retirement in June.
Howell, 70, served as the head of the local chamber since 2012. She previously directed chambers in Cloverdale and Rohnert Park and is a former mayor and city councilmember for Healdsburg.
Hart also served in leadership roles for the San Rafael and Irvine chambers of commerce. She has a B.S. Degree from Colorado State University. Healdsburg Chamber Chair Alan Baker, of Cartograph Wines, said of Hart, “the board is proud to welcome Tallia and we are thrilled to have found someone with her breadth of experience and passion for forging strong relationships between businesses and the community. Tallia’s expertise in attracting and supporting local businesses makes her a great choice for the Healdsburg Chamber, particularly in light of the city’s recent focus on economic development. We’re excited to have her put her skills to work for us, and I’m confident that her leadership will help the region’s diverse business community continue to thrive.”