No one was more surprised than Walt Howald on Thursday, Sept. 2, when Steve Rosansky, president and CEO of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, popped into the Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter (FONBAS) Board meeting, where Walt serves as founding member and treasurer.
Rosansky announced that Walt was chosen as the 2021 Newport Beach Citizen of the Year.
The annual award is presented to local residents for long-term, continuing commitment to serving Newport Beach.
As is the case each year, an iconic cadre of former Citizens of the Year joined in the surprise announcement and champagne toast including Joe Stapleton (2020), Nancy Gardner (2019), Homer Bludau (2017), Paul Watkins (2015), Jean Watt (2013), Tom Johnson (2011), and Evelyn Hart (2007).
Walt Howald comes from good stock. His father was Grant Howald, Corona del Mar’s first postmaster and one of Newport’s earliest civic innovators. Walt likes to say his father “got stuff done.” As the original inspiration for some of Newport Beach’s greatest community assets like the OASIS Senior Center, the Community Youth Center (CYC), and Grant Howald Park, Grant Howald did get stuff done.
Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as the legacy of getting stuff done, lots of stuff, applies to Walt as well.
A graduate of UCLA School of Law, Walt practiced law in Orange County for over 50 years. He served 25 years as an elected Trustee for Coast Community College District as well as two terms as City of Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commissioner. Walt is also a longtime supporter of OASIS and currently serves as a Vice President of Friends of OASIS.
And then there is Walt’s devoted work as a founding member of the FONBAS – a legacy project in its own right.
Walt, along with a handful of dedicated community volunteers, catapulted a modest community effort to aid animals in need to a thriving nonprofit organization which will break ground on a community funded state-of-the-art animal shelter which, when complete in early 2022, will be permanently donated to the City of Newport Beach.
Walt exemplifies the heart and soul of a true Citizen of the Year, which the Chamber’s website sums up as someone whose actions show “Newport Beach is my home – and my life – and its future and mine are the same – and whatever I can do to make them better, I will do.”
The Citizen of the Year award will officially be presented to Walt on November 19 at a banquet in his honor at the Balboa Bay Resort. The event is open to the public with tickets available on the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce website at www.NewportBeach.com.
Bravo Walt and thank you for all the stuff you get done.