Would Cotati be Cotati Without Prue Draper?
By Deborah Taylor-French
After moving to Cotati I became curious about how Rohnert Park and Cotati City limits fit tightly together like two hands with interlaced fingers. Walking each neighborhood and street brought to mind an intricate jigsaw puzzle. On a visit to the Cotati Historical Museum I asked Prudence (Prue) Draper why Cotati City limits were so erratically interwoven with our neighbor city?
Cotatians traditionally have said they were living in the “hub of Sonoma County.” So Cotati meant something as a meeting place, a lively town full of characters, with plenty of events and purpose. More than a wide spot in the road because people raised families, ran sheep ranches and poultry farms here.
Prue Draper said, “At that time when the Seed Farm sprouted new homes, Cotati residents began to fear that the incorporation of Rohnert Park would consume the 100 businesses and best real estate, plus the historic character of Cotati.” This concern led to the formation of a citizen’s committee spearheaded by Lloyd Draper. As co-owner, publisher, journalist and editor of The Cotatian Newspaper, Prue was not one step behind her husband. Dr. Bill Kortum, President of the Cotati Chamber of Commerce, Real estate broker Joe Dorfman and County Tax Appraiser Sam Houser sprang to action. The group began gathering signatures on a petition stating Cotati’s intention to form an incorporated city.
That day in the museum, Prue added, “Back in 1963 we literally went door to door asking each homeowner if they wanted to be including in Cotati City limits.” This explained why a stroll through Cotati, a person will enter and leave Cotati, on home-by-home basis, a pattern of interlacing city boundaries.
Prudence (Prue) Draper was a true Cotatian. I feel grateful to her for decades of community service. From knocking on doors to incorporate our city to the creation of the Cotati Historical Society and the history museum to her well known activism to save a rare albino redwood tree.
Dear Prue, you are missed. Your firm hold on facts along with your love of detail. Your insight and willingness to listen are missed. Your expressions of curiosity, your talent for uniting a community in a common goal, your generosity and thoughtfulness are missed. You will always be a major part of the “herstory” of Cotati.
I’m sure Prue would approve of a plug for her favorite cause. Please join the Cotati Historical Society and support the museum either online at cotatihistoricalsociety.org/join or mail a check to Cotati Historical Society, P.O. Box 7013, Cotati, CA 94931