Although she’s not local, Germaine Hupe is a Winters legend. From teaching generations of Winters students to orchestrating decades of Winters Theater Company productions, the longevity of Hupe’s ongoing impact on the town is nothing short of inspiring.
Originally born in Iowa, Hupe and her family moved to Davis when she was nine. There, she went to elementary school, high school, attended UC Davis on scholarship and then got her master’s degree at the Claremont Graduate University.
After that, she began teaching at Pacific Grove High School where she met her future husband Howard Hupe, who was a US Army officer learning Arabic. As an Army wife, Hupe found teaching jobs everywhere they were stationed. From Georgia, to Montana, to Washington, to Kansas, to Germany, to Iran and finally to a small blip on the map known as Winters, Calif.
“When my husband retired, he wanted to get a master’s degree. We decided to settle in Davis so Howard could get a master’s from Sac State, which he did. While he was doing that, I decided I wanted to go back to teaching since we’d just come back from Iran,” Hupe explained. “I wrote a bunch of letters and sent them out to schools asking if they needed an English teacher and Winters was one of the two schools that wrote back. Of course, I knew Winters well because we had a rivalry with them growing up and playing sports. I figured it’ll take Howard two years to get his master’s — it only took me one — and thought I can teach in Winters in that time. Well, something happened. I was in Winters two months and fell in love with the town. Everybody was so nice to me, my students were lovely and half of one of my classes were first cousins. I decided I would stay in Winters and two years became 29 years.”
Hupe’s charismatic influence was not limited to just students, however. Back in 1980, Liz Coman, the Winters Joint Unified School District career and college coordinator, was starting out her career as an educator and Hupe — a seasoned veteran by that time — took the young teacher under her wing. Under Hupe’s tutelage, Coman observed how she connected to teenagers, introduced them to Shakespeare and believed in her students — which she referred to as her ‘cherubs.’
“Germaine taught me how to be patient for one thing. She also taught me not by direct instruction, but just by observing her seeing the good. She saw the good in students, and all of them, regardless of whether or not English was their favorite subject, she taught me to find the good in them and then you can connect with that,” said Coman. “She was passionate about giving back to the community, passionate about teaching, passionate about the Winters theater and just passionate about Winters. She thought of Winters High as her school the same way she thought of Winters as her town.”
Beyond being a top-notch educator for Winters JUSD for decades, Hupe and her late husband Howard were instrumental in creating the Winters Theater Company (WTC) along with Linda Glick, Shirley Rominger and others. As a Shakespearian enthusiast in the educational arena, it only seems fitting she’s helped produce plays in Winters since 1980.
“Germaine and Howard are just such a big part of Winters’ history and a strong part of the Winters Theatre Company’s history. It’s just so ironic that they don’t live in Winters and they had played such an important role in the community, and Germaine still does to this day,” said WTC President Linda Glick. “Germain doesn’t like to direct, but she does so much backstage. She does all the article writing about the theater company, she does all the costumes for our shows and she says she doesn’t sew, she riggs costumes and is a perfectionist. But also, she’s just brilliant and amazing.”
Something to note about the Hupes is that at one point they were both designated Citizens of the Year — and they lived in Davis. Although Howard passed away in 2017, Hupe continues to live passionately for the community and embodies the selflessness that Winters is known for — even though she lives in Davis.
“It was wonderful teaching in Winters because it was part of seeing a community grow and I felt like I was growing with it. I almost taught a grandson at one point, but had many, many second-generation students and that was really fun,” Hupe said talking about her generational tenure. “In my and Howard’s case, Winters took us in. We lived in Davis and that was our address. Our real lives were in Winters and we were Citizens of the Year in 1986. Howard was involved in a lot of the clubs in town, and even though he was from out-of-town — that didn’t seem to bother anybody. We always said Davis is our address, but Winters is where we really live.”
Currently, Hupe is putting her 30 years of production skills to work on the Winters Theatre Company’s production of ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. The play opened Aug 5 and has additional show dates on Friday, Aug 12 and Saturday, Aug 13. The play begins at 7 p.m. and are performed at the amphitheater behind the Winter Community Center.
Generations of Winters locals have been inspired and taught by — how they know her as —Mrs. Hupe.