Humble doesn’t begin to describe Rob Coman, a tireless Winters historian and Museum curator described by his colleagues as “the keeper of Winters history” and who was named the 2022 Winters Senior Citizen of the Year.
Polite, composed, and honest, but also quiet and succinct with his words when asked about the award, Coman said he was “surprised and honored” by the news, saying he is “feeling good about representing the team” at the Winters Museum, which he stresses is “really a team effort.”
But his compatriots at the Historical Society of Winters were sure to highlight Coman’s centrality to the group’s efforts for recording and unearthing the stories of Winters.
Coman’s nomination, written by his Historical Society colleagues Gloria Lopez and Vicki Jacobs, succinctly and aptly described him as “Mr. Winters History,” noting his years as a member of the Historical Society of Winters as well as a curator for the Winters Museum since its founding in 2018.
“He is the most knowledgeable person in Winters when it comes to the founders of the town,” the nomination letter reads, lauding his dedication to the Winters Museum “rain or shine” as well as his work with other groups in town, including as “a driving force in helping other nonprofits, especially on the Big Day of Giving” and as working with the Winters Participation Gallery’s summer history mural projects.
Valerie Whitworth, Winters Participation Gallery chair, gave Coman credit for lending his technical expertise in creating the WPG Facebook page and leading its efforts in its Big Day of Giving campaign.
“His support in this manner has been crucial to WPG’s ability to focus on art and get it done. He is a miracle worker who quietly accomplishes big projects in a humble and unobtrusive way,” Whitworth said. “WPG would not be able to produce the lovely murals half as easily as it does without his amazing behind-the-scenes work. We cannot ever thank him enough for bringing us into the technological age. Without him, we would be much less as an organization.”
In a further statement to the Express, Lopez praised Coman’s, “very unique style of leadership” in which “he works quietly but effectively and efficiently to get things done” and described him as “driven by his passion for history and his dedication to service to the community of Winters” and “clearly the driving force behind preserving Winters history.”
When noting his proudest accomplishment, Coman noted that “five years ago we didn’t have a museum, and now we do” which has “told some good stories and had some good exhibits…and I’m proud of that.” Among his favorites, he cited the exhibit on Japanese families in Winters and on the town of Monticello.
But Coman still has historical work he would like to accomplish, such as the completion of his work on the Yolo County Fair Museum in Woodland, as well as saying “I hope all the museums locally can get together and build a consortium of local museums and historical societies and support each other.”
Coman cited his mother as an early influence on his journey with Winters history, as she was “a member of the Winters History Project back in the ’80s” as well as being in “the group that assembled the survey of Winters architecture” and serving as “a board member for Friends of the Yolo County Archives.”
“So, I guess I got that from her,” he explained.
With that latter position, Coman says he followed directly in her footsteps.
“When I had the opportunity to be a part of that, I accepted it, and the same with the Winters History Project, which became the Winters Historical Society and the Winters Museum, so I was carrying on her legacy,” Coman said.
Coman also expressed his thanks to his wife Liz “who has been a great supporter, and has allowed me to spend so much time at the museum.” He also expressed his hope that “more locals come visit the museum” and reiterated that it’s a team effort and they have a good team.
Lopez and Jacobs’ heartfelt nomination expressed their admiration for Coman, ending with a description as concise and true as the dedicated and modest man who has worked tirelessly to keep Winters’ history alive for the next generation.
Coman will formally be honored as the 2022 Senior Citizen of the Year recipient at the annual Toast to Winters event, planned for Friday, March 31 at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Sacramento–Winters. Learn more on the Winters District Chamber of Commerce’s website www.winterschamber.com.