2019 Newport Chamber Honors – Citizen of the Year Nancy Gardner and Business Person of the Year Jim Walker
Date/TimeDate(s) - 11/15/2019
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
LocationBalboa 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
Robert “Bob” Murphy
1952 Myford Irvine
O.W. “Dick” Richards
Dora O. Hill
Joseph A. Beek
Edward Milum, M.D.
J.L. “Les” Steffensen | James “Jim” Edwards
William “Bill” Spurgeon
David Nielsen, M.D.
Paul A. Palmer
Dr. Basil H. Peterson
Judge Robert Gardner | Walter Longmoor
A. Vincent Jorgenson
John Macnab | Doreen Marshall
Richard “Dick” Stevens
T. Duncan Stewart
William P. Ficker | Bill Banning
J. Peter Barrett
William D. Lusk
Rush N. Hill, II
Clarence “Bus” Turner
Thomas C. Edwards
2002 Bill Grundy
Norm Loats, E.d.D
Jack and Nancy Skinner
John and Elizabeth Stahr