2019 Newport Chamber Honors – Citizen of the Year Nancy Gardner and Business Person of the Year Jim Walker

Date/Time

Date(s) - 11/15/2019
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location

Balboa Bay Resort
1221 W. Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Nancy Gardner has deep roots in the city. Her father (a previous Citizen of the Year) came to Balboa in 1920 as an eight-year-old. Her parents met at the Rendezvous Ballroom.
Her early years were spent riding in the Irvine hills and surfing local beaches. After graduating from college she taught school until the birth of her daughter, Samantha.

Eventually, she entered the corporate world where she was part of a team selected by federal regulators to rehabilitate a failing savings and loan. Mission accomplished, she left the world of business and began to do volunteer work, co-founding the Newport Beach chapter of Surfrider Foundation and eventually serving as president of the national organization.

In 2006, she was elected to city council where she served two terms and then returned to the role of volunteer, serving on the boards of Orange Coast River Park Conservancy, Natural Communities Coalition and Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter.
She has two grandsons in college, a granddaughter who is a freshman at Laguna High, and she lives in Corona del Mar with her husband, Jim Switzer, and their very poorly trained dog, Finn.

Jim Walker has been a pioneer in the Orange County culinary scene for almost five decades. Jim ventured into the restaurant business in the early 1970’s when he opened his first restaurant, Bessie Walls Fine Food & Spirits. Subsequently, Jim moved on to own and operate a series of restaurants including Pasta Mesa Italian Restaurant in Costa Mesa, Domenico’s Pizza in Long Beach, Big Fish Tavern in Laguna Beach and Cedar Creek Inn in Brea, However, to his hometown friends and customers, Jim is best known as the owner of The Bungalow here in Corona del Mar, which is celebrating its 23rd anniversary. Along the way, Jim honed his skills at a number of restaurant chains including Alphy’s Coffee Shops, Godfather’s Pizza, El Torito, Hershel’s Deli & Bakery and Koo Koo Roo Rotisserie Chicken. If that isn’t enough, Jim also ventured into the insurance industry with New York Life and was a Fantastic Sam’s Hair Salon franchisee!

To his credit, Jim left the four walls of his restaurant and got active in the community. For many years, Jim has been a stalwart member of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, serving on the Chamber’s Board and ultimately as the Board Chair. He has also served as member of the Chamber Commodores Club for the last 9 years. In 2010, he graduated from Leadership Tomorrow and the Newport Beach Citizen Police Academy.

Early in its birth, Jim joined the Newport Beach Restaurant Association, serving as Chair for many years. He helped found the very successful Newport Beach Restaurant Week and convinced the City to allow patio dining in front of restaurants along Pacific Coast Hwy. He has been a fixture at City Hall fighting for the restaurant community.

Jim recently celebrated 5 years of marriage to his wife, Kay. Jim’s daughter, Wendy, lives in Cathedral City, California and daughter, Julie, lives in Running Springs, Colorado. Jim also has two grandchildren, Madelyne Aronilla (age 10) and Lucas Arjonilla (age 7).

Past Newport Beach Citizens of the Year

1949
Robert “Bob” Murphy

1950
Harry Welch

1951
Robert Callis

1952 Myford Irvine

1953
O.W. “Dick” Richards

1954
Dora O. Hill

1955
Joseph A. Beek

1956
Edward Milum, M.D.

1957
J.L. “Les” Steffensen | James “Jim” Edwards

1958
William “Bill” Spurgeon

1959
David Nielsen, M.D.

1960
Gerald Lynch

1961
Carroll Beek

1962
Paul A. Palmer

1963
Dr. Basil H. Peterson

1964
Robert Reed

1965
Isabel Pease

1966
Theodore Robins

1967
John Murdy

1968
Judge Robert Gardner  |  Walter Longmoor

1969
A. Vincent Jorgenson

1970
Fred Schope

1971
John Macnab  |  Doreen Marshall

1972
John Lawson

1973
Phil Tozer

1974
George Hoag

1975
Richard “Dick” Stevens

1976
Ray Watson

1977
Arvo Haapa

1978
Robert Wynn

1979
T. Duncan Stewart

1980
Robert Shelton

1981
William P. Ficker  |  Bill Banning

1982
Harry Babbitt

1983
J. Peter Barrett

1984
William D. Lusk

1985
Charley Hester

1986
Jackie Heather

1987
Bob McCurdy

1988
Hans Prager

1989
Bill Hamilton

1990
Paul Salata

1991/92
Jim Dale

1992/93
Art Gronsky

1993/94
Bob Robins

1994/95
Michael Stephens

1995/96
Lucille Kuehn

1997
Rush N. Hill, II

1998
Marian Bergeson

1999
Clarence “Bus” Turner

2000
Thomas C. Edwards

2001
Dayna Pettit

2002 Bill Grundy

2003
Scott Paulsen

2004
William Ring

2005
Seymour Beek

2006
Dennis O’Neil

2007
Evelyn Hart

2008
Lula Halfacre

2009
Norm Loats, E.d.D

2010
Ralph Rodheim

2011/12
Tom Johnson

2013
Jean Watt

2014
Jack and Nancy Skinner

2015
Paul Watkins

2016
John and Elizabeth Stahr

2017
Homer Bludau

2018
Debbie Snavely