Dear Ms. Werdinger,
I read your article in the Willits Weekly with interest regarding the June 10, 2017 hundred-year remembrance of Main St. Willits.
It is such a significant validation of Willits history and of the Museum fostering its study that I hope you will recommend to the organizing staff that the Museum's first director Herb Pruett is specially invited to the reception. He continues to live in Willits.
Herb Pruett came to Mendocino County from San Francisco in about 1972 where he had helped create the Exploratorium working with the younger brother of Robert Oppenheimer, Frank, at a time when that skilled physicist was still under the pall of postwar hysteria and ostracism. Pruett had also wired the nose cone of the Polaris Missile, one of the first successful space launches. When he took up the position of Museum Director, he solicited the collection practically from nothing. I distinctly remember that after working overnight in preparation for the Museum's grand opening day and the resulting festivities, Herb went across East Commercial Street and fell asleep on the Recreation Grove lawn.
The Board involved had been headed up by Les Divine, formerly police chief of Oakland in the 1940's. When Earl Warren, then California governor, ordered the State police units to take the Japanese population into custody and deport it en masse, Divine refused to cooperate and condemned the order as illegal, a refusal vindicated in later U.S. history. These are little known details of the creation of a center of county culture.
So I hope you will pass along the suggestion, recognizing and perhaps honoring Herb Pruett, to the staff. It would be a gracious feature of opening the retrospective exhibit, which also marks the forty-fifth year of the facility.
Thank you for the informative article.