Solano County

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Though a Canadian by birth, Walter Z. Rankin, president of the Be-nicia board of education and one of the veteran merchants of that city, one of the best known citizens of Solano county, has been a resident of California for forty years and there are few in this section of the state who have a wider or a better acquaintance than he. Mr. Rankin was born in the vicinity of the city of Montreal, important river port of the province of Quebec and chief city of Canada, October 10, 1862, and was there reared and schooled amid an excellent social environment. Upon leaving school he was for a time employed in the operations of one of the great paper mills there and then, in 1885, he then being in his twenty-third year, he came to California and located at Benicia, which ever since has been his home, he thus very properly having a right to regard himself as one of the "pioneers" of that flourishing and attractive little city on the bay.

Upon his arrival here Mr. Rankin became employed in the operations of the old Baker & Hamilton Company, manufacturers of agricultural im-plements, and was for thirteen years thereafter connected with that concern. In 1898 he became engaged in business on his own account, opening a grocery store at Benicia, and has ever since been thus engaged, a period of nearly thirty years, one of the oldest merchants in continuous business in the city. Mr. Rankin has a well stocked and admirably appointed place of business at 919 First street and is doing well, a firmly established figure in local commercial circles.

For years Mr. Rankin has given his earnest attention to the development of the general interests of his home town, particularly interested in the development of the local school system, and since 1913 has been a member of the board of education, present president of the board. During this incumbency many notable improvements have been made in the admirable school plant of the city of Benicia and the facilities for the schooling of the youth of the city have been extended in every direction, these including the erection of a new primary school and the Glencoe school and the recent floating of a bond issue for the erection of a new high school, with the expectation that this fine modern addition to the city school plant will be ready for occupancy in 1926. Mr. Rankin was an earnest promoter of all these improvements and that his progressive spirit is supported by the people was revealed when it was found that the referendum in the matter of the seventy-two thousand dollar bond issue for the new high school was carried by a vote of three to one. Mr. Rankin also is the president of the local public library board and in that capacity has done much to extend the facilities of this admirable institution.

In 1899, at Benicia, Walter Z. Rankin was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Stevens of that city and they have three children, a daughter, Mrs. C. L. Atkins, who was graduated from the University of California in 1921, and two sons, Sheldon Rankin, who is now a student in the California State Teachers College at Chico, and Raymond Rankin, who is still in high school. Mrs. Rankin was born in Ohio and was reared in Kansas but has been a resident of Benicia since the days of her young womanhood. Mr. and Mrs. Rankin are members of the Congregational church and take an earnest interest in the activities of that congregation. Mrs. Rankin is the secretary of the local chapter of the American Red Cross and is an active and influential figure in community nurse work and other local welfare movements. Mr. Rankin is a veteran member of the local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has twice served as the noble grand of that lodge.

History of Solano County, California By Marguerite Hunt and Napa County, California By Harry Lawrence Gunn. From Their Earliest Settlement To The Present Time. Chicago. S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1926. 883 pages.

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This page was last updated 14 Oct 2007

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