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Newport Beach honors its Citizens of the Year

On Friday, Nov. 19, the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce honored the 2020 Citizen of the Year Joe Stapleton and 2021 Citizen of the Year Walt Howald at a gala cocktail and tray-passed hors d’oeuvres reception and sit-down dinner at the Balboa Bay Resort.

Newport Beach honors Joe and Walt

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Photos by Ed Olen

Courtesy of Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce

2020 Citizen of the Year Joe Stapleton and 2021 Citizen of the Year Walt Howald

More than 300 attendees enjoyed the camaraderie of gathering together to re-connect, mingle and then sit down to enjoy a delicious three-course dinner with wine and a lively program.

Newport Beach honors Harp

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City Attorney Aaron Harp and his wife Lori with Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Steve Rosansky (right)

Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Rosansky welcomed guests in the ballroom then dinner was served: a traditional greens salad with Champagne vinaigrette and rolls, followed by an entrée of glazed beef short rib on a bed of forest mushroom risotto and culminating with a dulche de leche chocolate mousse for dessert.

Stapleton’s recognition came a year late, as the 2020 Citizen of the Year Celebration was postponed because of COVID. 

Newport Beach honors Avery

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Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery addresses the audience

Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery shared his comments then turned the program over to emcee Tom Johnson, publisher of Stu News Newport and Stu News Laguna, who named the many accomplishments of both Stapleton and Howald, peppered with humorous anecdotes and a little bit of “roasting.”

Newport Beach honors Snavely

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General Manager of Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa Debbie Snavely (2018 Citizen of the Year) pins Joe Stapleton

General Manager of Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa and the 2018 Citizen of the Year Debbie Snavely presented Stapleton with the 2020 Citizen of the Year pin; then, Stapleton in turn presented Howald with his 2021 pin.

Newport Beach honors Stapleton

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Joe Stapleton pins Walt Howald

Stapleton attributed much of his community involvement to aligning with the Chamber when he first moved to the area. Among the many boards and committees he serves on, he is chair of the Newport Beach Foundation, which strengthens the current and future community leadership through education, research and advocacy.

Newport Beach honors Sherwin

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(L-R) Newport Beach & Company President and CEO Gary Sherwin, Debbie Snavely and DMCP Partner Eventis Candace Bisconte

In his acceptance comments, Howald, a long-time Newport Beach resident (he attended the 1953 Boy Scout Jamboree), recounted his early life understanding of service by sharing a fascinating community barn-building story from his youth. 

Newport Beach honors Dixon

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Newport Beach Councilmember Diane Dixon and Joe Stapleton

Past Citizen of the Years in attendance included Jim Dale (1991/92), Rush Hill (1997), Clarence “Bus” Turner (1999), Tom Edwards (2000), Scott Paulsen (2003), Seymour Beek 2005), Evelyn Hart 2007), Lula Halfacre (2008), Johnson (2011), Jean Watt (2013), Nancy Skinner (2014), Paul Watkins (2015), Homer Bludau (2017) and Debbie Snavely (2018).

Newport Beach honors Lara

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(L-R) Lara and Jonathan Langford with Steve Rosansky and Speak Up Newport Board President Ed Selich

Newport Beach honors Walt

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Walt Howald and his wife Karen

Newport Beach honors O'Neills

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(L-R) Newport Beach Councilmember Will O’Neill and his wife Jennifer with NMUSD School Board Trustee Michelle Barto and her husband Brady

Newport Beach honors Langford

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(L-R) FONBAS Board President John Langford, Walt Howald, Phil Langford and Tom Johnson