Volume 8, Issue 22  |  March 17, 2023Subscribe

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Walt Howald named 2021 Newport Beach Citizen of the Year

Walt Howald was doing what he does best, serving the community, when the Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter committee meeting was interrupted to announce that Walt was selected as the City’s 2021 Citizen of the Year. Howald was the unanimous choice of the selection committee, comprised of all living former Citizens of the Year during a recent selection luncheon event.

Howald has been a fixture as a volunteer over the years in many local organizations including the Friends of OASIS, the Friends of the Newport Beach Animal Shelter, the Corona del Mar Residents Association, as a commissioner on the city’s Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission and as a trustee for the Coast Community College District. He even reminded Stu News that, along with Jean Watt, the 2013 Citizen of the Year, they were part of the creation in 1974 of Friends of Newport Coast to protect Crystal Cove from development by the Irvine Company.

Walt Howald and citizens

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Photos by Tom Johnson

(L-R) Walt Howald is congratulated by previous Citizens of the Year Rush Hill, Scott Paulsen and Joe Stapleton

A graduate of UCLA with a B.S. in Economics and English, and a UCLA Law J.D., Howald has practiced law for 50+ years in Orange County and is a member of the Federal, California and Orange County Bar Associations.

The Howald name is legendary around town as Corona del Mar’s recently refurbished Grant Howald Park is named in his late father’s honor. Grant was the first postmaster in Corona del Mar and was also tremendously involved in the community. 

In fact, Walt’s parents are credited with being one of five local couples who identified a need for a place in Newport Beach for single seniors to go and together started the Older Adult Social and Information Services, now, of course, called OASIS.

“I think both of my parents would be very proud (of today’s news),” said Howald. “This is the highlight for my service to the community and my living here. I love this City and I’ve been trying to help for some years. It’s a humbling honor.”

Walt Howald Walt and Karen

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Walt Howald, along with wife Karen, celebrate Walt’s announcement as Newport Beach’s 2021 Citizen of the Year

Howald’s wife, Karen, joined the group making the surprise announcement in a conference room at Newport Beach City Hall. Walt and Karen have two children, son Brandon, who lives locally, and daughter Tracy, who lives in Washington, D.C. In addition, they have 10 grandchildren, of which seven live locally in Orange County.

Howald and 2020 Citizen of the Year Joe Stapleton will be honored at a Friday, Nov. 19 dinner planned for the Balboa Bay Resort. Stapleton, unfortunately, missed out on formal recognition last year due to COVID-19.

Other previous Citizens of the Year on hand to congratulate Howald included Stapleton (2020), Nancy Gardner (2019), Homer Bludau (2017), Paul Watkins (2015), Nancy Skinner (2014), Watt (2013), Tom Johnson (2011), Evelyn Hart (2007), Scott Paulsen (2003), Dayna Pettit (2001), Tom Edwards (2000) and Rush Hill (1997).

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