IN MEMORIAM: Marshall McKay and Richard Rominger

Couple wearing medals hanging from blue ribbons, at UC Davis podium
Richard and Evelyne Rominger at UC Davis Medal presentation event in June 2016. (Jason Spyres/UC Davis)


  • Marshall McKay, tribal elder, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation
  • Richard Rominger, agricultural icon, UC Davis Medal recipient

Marshall McKay: Tribal elder

Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation elder Marshall McKay, a former member of the UC Davis Foundation Board who joined his tribe in its ardent support of the university, has died.

Marshall McKay headshot

The Tribal Council in Brooks, in Yolo County’s Capay Valley, issued a statement Dec. 30 announcing McKay’s death, noting that he had battled COVID-19. “We know our pain is shared by so many families facing the devastating effects of this pandemic,” the council said. “We will miss his strength and wisdom. He was a resolute protector of Native American heritage here, within our own homeland, but also throughout California and Indian Country.” 

McKay, 68, died Dec. 29 at died at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper noted McKay’s selection as the first Indigenous chairman on the board of the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles.

He was a member of the Tribal Council for 31 years, 1984-2015, including 10 as the chair, and continued to serve on many of the tribe’s governmental bodies, including the board of directors for Cache Creek Casino Resort.  

“He was instrumental in helping Yocha Dehe achieve economic independence, he helped the tribe grow and diversify its agricultural operations, and he helped to greatly expand the tribe’s land holdings within Yocha Dehe’s ancestral territory,” the Tribal Council said.

Read Chancellor Gary S. May’s statement on the passing of Marshall McKay.

Richard Rominger: Agricultural icon

UC Davis alumnus Richard Rominger, Class of 1949, a Yolo County farmer who held agricultural leadership posts in the state and federal governments, died Dec. 20 at the age of 93.

Richard Rominger headshot

He met his future wife, Evelyne, who survives him, in the Cal Aggie Marching Band. Stalwart supporters of UC Davis — Rich had served as a member of the UC Davis Foundation Board — each received the university’s highest honor, the UC Davis Medal, in 2016.

“Rich was a true public servant and an inspiration to us all,” Helene Dillard, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said in a news story posted Dec. 22 to the college’s website.

Rominger had served as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, and also had been an advisor to the chancellor’s office and the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute.

“Rich was a man of integrity and you could always count on him for thoughtful advice,” Dillard said. “It’s impossible to overstate Rich’s lasting contributions to public service and to agriculture.”

Rominger was a pioneer in both conventional and organic farming. With deep ties to UC Davis, the Rominger family welcomes student and faculty researchers to their 6,000-acre farm to further the science of sustainable food production.

He was a co-founder and founding president of the Yolo Land Trust and had served on the board of the American Farmland Trust for 17 years.

No services are planned at this time. To continue Rominger’s work, his family asks for memorial contributions to the Yolo Land Trust, 221 W. Court St., Suite 5, Woodland 95695; and the Bradford-Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award Fund at the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, in care of the Dean’s Office, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis, 1 Shields Ave., Davis 95616.

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