Heritage Heroes 2022

The Woodland Stroll Through History Committee is proud to recognize Ed and Lisa Shelley with this year’s Heritage Hero Award.

Ed and Lisa share a love for preserving and sharing Woodland’s history. As owners of The Corner Drug Company they were instrumental in coordinating the very first Stroll Through History event. Lisa was a member of the Historic Preservation Committee, which launched the original Stroll Through History tours. The Stroll started as a way to draw people downtown and share our city’s rich history with locals. Along with owning the Corner Drug Company building, they also purchased the two adjoining buildings from the family of Bertie (Alge) Stephens, who were the original owners.

In the early days of the Stroll Through History antique vendors lined Main Street, while volunteer docents lead tours throughout the Downtown Area. Lisa served as one of the original docents for the first few years.

Over the years the Shelleys and Corner Drug have continued to provide support and sponsorship of the annual event. The pharmacy, which has operated in the same location since the 1890s, has served as a convenient location for locals and out of town visitors to easily purchase their tickets in the weeks leading up to the Stroll. Their large display windows have housed many local artifacts and historical photos of Woodland over the years. The iconic neon sign was installed in 1948 and is a favorite subject for local photographers.

As a 3rd generation Woodlander Ed is connected to the community in variety of capacities. Whether it’s driving for the Community Care Car, serving on the Friends of the Wayfarer’s Board of Directors, or past president of the Woodland Downtown Association he has continued to give back to his hometown. He and Lisa are both active members of their Woodland High School Class Reunion Committees.

Lisa, a 2nd generation Woodlander, purchased Corner Drug Company from her father in 1999 and continued the tradition of providing excellent and compassionate service to the community. Ed and Lisa’s daughter Sara has followed in her mother’s footsteps and is the 3rd generation pharmacist in her family. Sara is well positioned to take over the family business in the future and continue the legacy of providing excellent service to Woodland and the surrounding areas. Lisa is hoping to join Ed in retiring soon, so they can continue to travel and enjoy their grandchildren.

Heritage Heroes 2021

The Heritage Hero for this year’s Stroll Through History is Jim Smith, for 27 years the hard-working editor of the Daily Democrat.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland to a British mother and an American father, Jim grew up in Pocatello, Idaho and attended Idaho State University, majoring in journalism (of course). While at Idaho State, he became the youngest editor of his college newspaper. That was  the beginning of a 41-year career in journalism.

 Jim has received many awards for newspaper design, editorial and column writing, as well as awards for photography and public service. As a journalist, his top priority was to act as the eyes and ears of the local community, and to report as much as possible with available and ever shrinking resources. But if you ask Jim about his greatest achievement, he will tell you it is the teaching and encouragement of young journalists.

Jim has worked through the years with many community groups, helping to publicize their events. The Stroll Through History Board is especially grateful for his and his staff’s hard work in publicizing the Stroll and producing the informative Stroll Tabloid each year.

Now that Jim has retired, we wish him a long and happy retirement, and who knows… maybe he will write a book about his many years as editor of The Daily Democrat.

Heritage Heroes 2019

Christy Hayes
by Dallas Hyde

Christy Hayes is without a doubt one of the most influential individuals in the growth of Woodland’s Historic Downtown.  Christy moved to Woodland in August of 2004 after serving in the Air Force as a heavy diesel mechanic.  On her 2nd day here she got a job at Morrison’s. She says, “the rest is history”.  Christy opened her restaurant, Mojo’s and Kitchen 428, in the historic Jackson building in January 2012.

Giving back to the community and celebrating local talent are key focuses for Christy.  Every month Mojo’s has a “Cocktail for a Cause” that has a featured drink on the menu and 50% of all the sales of this drink go directly to charity.  Both Kitchen 428 and Mojo’s feature local artists on a rotating basis.  The restaurant also serves as the check-in for the Dickens in the Valley home tour, which benefits the Friends of Meals on Wheels.

Christy holds a car show in front of her business on the 3rd Thursday from May to October to create a fun community event.  The car show brings vintage cars from Woodland, Sacramento, Vacaville, and Esparto.  Food Truck Mania on the first Sunday of the month was started by Christy to give Woodland a taste of the regional food truck talent.   This event is very popular and brings in themed events during the holidays.

Christy is a huge supporter of local restaurants. She encourages visitors to see all that Woodland dining has to offer.  Christy values bringing variety into Woodland dining and knows that supporting each other in this industry is one key to success. In her own words, “Rising tides raise all ships” meaning if the community values the dining options downtown it helps everyone.

In 2012 Christy started the “Swirl and Slice” which is a food, wine & beer walk through several Downtown Woodland locations with wine, beer and/or food samples. Proceeds from this bi-annual event Benefit Yolo Farm to Fork’s Edible School Garden Programs, which teach kids to grow food and eat healthy.

Christy will be teaching “Adulting 101” using her experience as a heavy diesel mechanic to teach basic car maintenance to teens.  She is also a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a philanthropic organization of women leaders in the fields of fine food, beverage and hospitality.  The organization also awards scholarships to women for education in local wine, culinary and agricultural programs. 

Al Eby
by Dallas Hyde

For many years Al Eby’s focus has brought attention and recognition to all that Woodland has to offer.  Al opened up the Blue Wing Gallery in Historic Downtown Woodland in 2003. He has witnessed and spearheaded many changes there.

In 2006 Al helped start the First Friday Artwalk.  The Artwalk features local artists, musicians and businesses, bringing foot traffic downtown. The extended open hours enable local businesses to attract new customers.

In 2015 Al, along with former Stroll Board President Kelly Newsom, started Visit Woodland.  Visit Woodland is a one stop shopping webpage that contains local news and events while also shedding light on the rich culture and interesting people that live here.  The site offers visitors suggestions and insights on local entertainment while also offering an up to date calendar of events for many different interests.

Perhaps Al’s biggest accomplishment is starting The California Honey Festival in 2016. It has grown every year with over 35,000 visitors in 2019.  The California Honey festival benefits select bee and pollinator non-profits that do the hard work of research and education to ensure bee health worldwide.

Al stays connected with the needs and wants of the community and finds ways to encourage the types of businesses that meet those needs in Woodland.  He has focused on pairing these businesses with local charitable organizations to raise much needed funds for worthy causes.

In an effort to help local stores get more exposure and to highlight the many amazing things Woodland has to offer, Al helped develop the Nytch app.  This app connects people to locally owned and operated businesses that sell everything from custom floral arrangements to hardware for their next DIY project.  Users start by creating a request describing a problem they are working on, or a specific product they need. Nytch matchs that request to local businesses.

Al has been very supportive of the Stroll Through History for many years and continues to be a major influence in the revitalization of Historic Downtown Woodland.


Heritage Heroes 2018

Jenny Lillge

Jenny Lillge has been a fan of history since grade school. A Woodland native, she attended Gibson Elementary, Douglass Junior High, and Woodland High School. She loved to read, and books about people living in different times and places fascinated her. She read “Gone With The Wind” in sixth grade, a real accomplishment for someone who hadn’t started junior high.

Books were not Jenny’s only window into the past. A family trip to Europe when she was seven showed her the importance of being able to see places she had only read and heard about. Walking along the beaches of Normandy made stories about D-Day seem more real. Visiting the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, and walking through the bookcase into the “secret annex” was an experience she will never forget.

“To actually be in Anne Frank’s hiding place, and see the concentration camp of Dachau, really made an otherwise unimaginable part of history seem like something that really happened. It’s not enough to read about the past, although that’s a good start. Whether it’s an enormous historic tragedy, or the everyday lives of people 100 years ago, we can learn much more by being able to walk where these people walked!”

After high school, Jenny attended Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and later lived in Chicago for two years, a city rich with art, history and architecture. As a newlywed, Jenny moved to Salem, Oregon to attend Willamette Law School and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, but she and her husband Nate quickly realized they wanted to make Woodland their home. They moved back to Woodland and Jenny was shortly thereafter appointed to the Gibson House Museum Board in 2010. As a board member, Jenny worked hard to keep the Gibson House the home of the Yolo County Historical Museum.

She also became active in city politics, and started a Change.org petition to keep Woodland’s general plan from approving an addition to the east of town that would have added 10,000 new homes.

“Woodland has a really unique downtown, and the residential areas represent a living history of different building styles. As Woodland grows, it’s important to keep the core area the true town center. Smart growth is important and we need to maintain the vision of a real town and plan carefully.”

Today, Jenny works in an 1892 Victorian building in downtown Woodland. Her office walls are lined with Van Gogh and Klimt prints, photos and paintings of Bernard Maybeck’s architecture, a copy of the ship’s manifest for her great-grandfather’s crossing from Liverpool to New York and even the United States Post Office’s recent reproduction of the Inverted Jenny stamps. “I love art, architecture and history. It’s a treat that I get to work surrounded by all three.”

Looking forward, Jenny sees the need for coordination between Yolo County’s many different historic organizations.

“We are so lucky to have so many people who volunteer their time and energy promoting Yolo County’s history. We have the Archives, the Yolo County Historical Society, the Friends of the Woodland Library, and many other groups. Winters will soon have its own Winters Historical Society. It would be great to coordinate all these different organizations, and really use this energy for promoting history throughout the county. I hope to be a part of that going forward.”


Richard Bellows Heritage Hero

Richard and his wife Marilyn moved to Woodland in 2005 after his career in NJ and CT. That first year, they heard about the Stroll Through History. Both were charmed by the grass roots nature and all-volunteer ethics of the Stroll. They especially loved the walking tours. They have not missed a Stroll since.

In 2008, Richard started the Stroll Bike Tours. In 2009, he published an article about the Bike Tours in Cycle California. In 2011, when the Stroll was facing organizational and financial problems. Richard, along with David Wilkinson and BJ Ford, stepped up to save the Stroll. Richard took over the printing of the ticket booklet. National Town and Valley Properties, Kathy & David Aukes, volunteered their color copier, saving the Stroll several thousand dollars in printing charges. Richard then assumed responsibility as Chair of the Stroll in 2012 and led it for four years until 2015. During his tenure as Chair, Richard helped organize the volunteers to insure that each Board member could excel, but that they were working as a team. At the end of his tenure, the Stroll was again organizationally and financially sound. Dick still plays an important part of the Stroll Board: editing the ticket book, conducting home interviews, keeping the new Chair on track, and generally filling in whenever needed.

Richard is a chemical engineer by training. As he wound down his consulting business, he became active and assumed leadership role in several other community organizations, including Woodland Kiwanis, Epicurean Esprit, NAMI Yolo, the Yolo Local Mental Health Board and the Fly Fishers of Davis. Woodland has turned out to be a wonderful place for a newcomer to make contributions to a new community.

Marianne Ryan by Margaret Kronenberg

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 10.16.06 AMMarianne Ryan was born and raised in the Midwest, then moved to California in 1960. She began the study of art at the University of California, Davis with Manuel Neri, Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Arnsen. Marianne is one of the early founders of The Stroll Through History who planned and organized the poster contest. She is also the original incorporating president of the Yolo Arts Council that started in 1981.

Marianne took four visits to Carrara Italy, the location of the Michelango white marble quarry. Manuel Neri served as her guide and advisor. On her 4th visit she shipped back 1.2 metric tons of hand selected white marble to Woodland. She then gave an art exhibit and talk at Sacramento State University titled: The Last Wedding Part One, where she utilized the Italian marble.

Marianne also gave a talk and exhibition at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, featuring work from CERN (the European Union for Nuclear Research).

Two subsequent visits to Geneva followed where she was able to observe the CERN experiment. She was invited to respond to the project with art. Upon doing so, she presented examples of her paintings and the physicists asked her permission to install her work permanently on their own website. She, of course, said “yes”. They did.
Regionally: Solo exhibition at the Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, Nelson Gallery UCD, Yolo Arts Gallery 625, Woodland Carnegie Library, Natsoulas Gallery, Davis, County Fair and numerous group shows.

“In most of mankind, within a life span, there occurs a facet of time when the inner strengths , often unspoken, often unrecognized , are thrust unexpectedly into action causing a person to unwittingly accelerate physical and mental properties. The individual capacity to exceed the ordinary limitations of human endeavor is startling, stunning and without explanation: extra-ordinary. Within the spirit of some, there resides a force, an unyielding task master, compelling and relentless, beckoning, pushing, pulling at once, propelling to go beyond mediocrity, to extend capability, to reach farther and farther without regard. In recognition and love of this phenomena, I address my efforts and the use of my materials.” – Marianne Ryan

Heritage Heroes David Wilkinson by Al Smith

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 10.15.58 AMDavid Wilkinson has been an integral part of the Stroll since the first formal event in 1989. After graduate studies at UC Davis in 1985, David and his wife Diane Adams moved from Davis to Woodland. Within a year they purchased their ‘beloved’ Victorian house on First Street which “needed a lot of work.” But through their dedicated passion and renovation, the fixer-upper house became a home for raising twin daughters Rose and Emily, while solidifying David’s enthusiasm for the community.

During his eight years on the Historic Preservation Commission David seriously studied and wrote about Woodland’s history and exceptional architecture, which he finds “endlessly fascinating and rewarding.” He helped with the research and update of the Woodland Walking Tour booklet in 1989, and then served on the 1989 organizing committee for the freshly named event, Stroll Through History. Active in every Stroll since, he has organized walking tours, trained docents, and led both walking and bus tours. He and friend Roger Klemm are popular tour guides engaging guests with their expert knowledge with occasional injections of their own fun repartee.

David helped establish the Heritage Home Awards, which honors homeowners who have done exceptional jobs renovating and maintaining historic houses thus preserving Woodland’s architectural jewels. The Stroll is an annual showcase of such beauty. A man quick to give credit to others, David acknowledges learning much from the late Ron Pinegar, long time Woodland city planner, who was an outstanding contributor to preserving the city’s history and enthusiastic worker with the Stroll.

His wonderful 2003 book Crafting a Valley Jewel: Architects and Builders of Woodland grew from information gained from earlier research for the Walking Tour guides. David’s writing continues with How Woodland Became the City of Trees, to be published in 2017, an apt subject because David co-founded the Woodland Tree Foundation.

David Wilkinson sums up his dedication: “As we learn more about Woodland’s history, it deepens our appreciation for what we have and connects us more deeply in the community. It inspires us all to do our part to beautify the town and make the best of this place we call Woodland.”