One of Colfax's treasures honored

Gertrude Paul earns Record's Community Service award
By: Gloria Beverage
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One of Colfax’s living treasures, Gertrude Paul, will be awarded the Scoop Thurman Community Service Award during Friday’s Colfax Chamber of Commerce annual luncheon.
The Colfax Record award is given annually to an individual who goes above and beyond in serving the community. The award is named for longtime Record Editor Alan “Scoop” Thurman, who in addition to being a successful businessman was also Colfax’s postmaster and a member of the California Legislature for several years.
Last year, the award was given to Pene and Gary Todd, longtime business owners, who helped individuals and businesses throughout the area in countless ways.
Paul, who has lived in Colfax since 1976, has been instrumental in ensuring that many of Colfax’s “treasures” are protected.
“Active in the Garden Club and with many others,” wrote Helen Wayland and Nancy Hagman in their nomination letter, “she was a force for changing the downtown into a flowering garden.”
Paul, 90, is being recognized not only for her efforts on behalf of the Colfax Garden Club, but also for her efforts with the Colfax Historical Society, the Placer County Historical Society and the Native Daughters.
“I just can’t believe it. I have to sit here and digest it,” said Paul after learning of the award. “I had no idea that I would ever be that meaningful to this community.”
Paul’s passion has been researching the stories of Colfax’s historic buildings as well as collecting a wide variety of memorabilia and artifacts from area families for the museum, which opened in the historic Railroad Depot in 2005.
It all started in 1985 when Paul represented the Colfax Garden Club on a citywide committee attempting to obtain Main Street U.S.A. redevelopment funding.
One of the requirements for obtaining funding was an active historical society. To drum up members for the as-yet-unformed society, Paul pushed a wheelbarrow in the Fourth of July parade inviting folks to talk with her afterwards.
She set up a table near the caboose on Main Street and collected the names and addresses of 24 residents, including some members of historic families, such as the Coropassis and Paolis.
Within a month, the Colfax Area Historical Society had elected its first officers.
Although the Main Street program didn’t materialize, Paul’s love for Colfax’s history remained steadfast.
Through her efforts, the Historical Society placed 15 bronze markers to honor the history of buildings, some dating from 1865, throughout downtown Colfax. For that project, Paul devoted countless hours researching, documenting and collecting information on the buildings and the early settlers.
Her most treasured find, however, is a collection of more than 7,500 glass negatives by Grace Hubley Jones, a commercial photographer who lived in Colfax and had studios in San Francisco and Sacramento in the early 1900s.
Thanks to Paul, the rare collection was donated to the Historical Society in the late 1990s.
At 90, Paul has also remained active with the Red Hat Society, the 1918 Club and is an honorary member of E Clampus Vitus.
It was Paul’s husband, Fred, who initiated the move to Colfax, she acknowledged in a 2007 Record interview.
“My husband liked Colfax,” she recalled. “He had a trailer of birdhouses, trellis and shrines, selling them from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe, when he saw the (Rising Sun Mine Estates) subdivider at the (Cisco Grove) gift shop and heard about the Colfax property.”
They purchased the mine superintendent’s log cabin in 1962 and moved to Colfax after his retirement in 1976.
Through the years, Paul has also been active with the Red Hat Society, the 1918 Club and is an honorary member of E Clampus Vitus.
In the past couple of years, she has enjoyed the “sew-cial” gathering at the Whistle Stop Quilt Shop in downtown Colfax. With the encouragement of the other quilters, last year Paul completed a Dresden Plate quilt she started when she was 12 years old.
Although she has traveled extensively, including two trips to Israel, Paul still calls Colfax home.
Centennial luncheon
11:30 a.m. Friday
Where: Sierra Vista Community Center, 55 School St.
Info: Seating limited; call the Colfax Chamber office at 346-8888.