Concord celebrates Women’s History Month

CONCORD, CA (Mar. 22, 2023) — As we observe Womens’ History Month this March, many of the women who have shaped Concord’s history come to mind.

Colleen Coll served on the City Council for 15 years in the 1980s and ’90s, following in the footsteps of her father, a high-powered lawyer and mayor/council member.

During Coll’s tenure, Concord was in the heart of development. She was monumental in bringing child care into the light and the Brendan Theatre into action.

Most recently, Coll was asking the council to vote no on Seeno as developer for the former Naval Weapons Station. Some say Laura Nakamura surprisingly beat Tim McGallian for a council seat because she said no to Seeno.

Another current councilmember, Carlyn Obringer, is credited with studying the issues, talking to the people and working with the people. She is a favorite of the community.

Laura Hoffmeister, the longest-serving council member, has accomplished many actions for the people through the years. Her mother, Georgia, worked for the city of Concord for years and set an example for her daughter to serve the people.

Vivian Boyd, an educator and president of the Concord Historical Society, is leading the growth of the Heritage Center where the Galindo home and Concord Museum and Event Center (the Masonic Temple) are located.

Sister Mary Grace, executive director of East Bay Services for Developmentally Disabled Adults (DDA), received a grant from Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to build the first DDA housing project. Another of her accomplishments was acquiring the historic Adobe building and transforming it to a wellness center.

Carolyn Lehmer Anderson is the owner of a second-generation automobile dealership. She has been active with the Chamber of Commerce and Concord Rotary.

June Bulman was the first woman elected to the Concord City Council and the first female mayor. She helped established the Lime Ridge Open Space and the first outdoor Vietnam War Memorial Hill in Newhall Park, where 34 trees are planted to honor the soldiers that Concord and Clayton lost in the war.

Betty Martin Barnes, an executive secretary for the construction firm Martin Brothers, was a major donor to the Historical Society. The Event Center Hall is named after her. By the way, the stage in the hall housed a harmonica concert for our pride and joy, Dave Brubeck, when he was just 6 years old.

Ruth Galindo, who taught Spanish at the one and only Mt. Diablo High School her entire career, donated her house to the Historical Society. It is open for tours 1-4 p.m. the first and third Sundays of the month. Galindo was a founding member of the Historical Society, established in 1970 to help save many of the city’s historical buildings.

Charlotte Ballinger was also a society founding member. A mailman was quoted as saying “Who are you, a celebrity? Never have I delivered so many Christmas cards to one person.” And with a twinkle in her eye, she said: “Well, I was an elementary school teacher and music teacher, and a mother advisor to the Rainbow Girls for 60 years.” After her husband died in 1953, she went back to teaching for 19 years.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is Bertha Romaine, principal of Mt. Diablo High 1917-1948. She applied as a mechanical drawing teacher and was appointed principal right away. She was well-respected and loved by the students and community.

I have given you a snippet of some women who could all have their own stories about their roles in Concord’s history. As we honor women this month, I hope you’ll take a minute to think of these women’s contribution.

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Related story: Concord’s first woman mayor, champion of open space


Carol Longshore
Carol Longshore

Carol Longshore has been a Concord resident since 1950. She is a community leader and past president of the Concord Historical Society. Send comments and suggestions for future topics.