The Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce presented the 2013 Citizen of the Year award Friday to longtime resident, Jean Watt, during a reception at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club.
About 30 past recipients had a hand in selecting Watt and worked hard to keep it a secret until the award was presented to her, chamber officials reported. Marian Bergeson and Evelyn Hart, Watt's friends, arranged for her appearance by inviting her to lunch at Tommy Bahama which was to include a quick stop at BCYC under the pretense that officials were discussing water quality issues.
“This almost gave me a heart attack,” Watt said of the surprise. “I’m astounded is the short version."Steve Rosansky, the chamber's president, said Watt was very deserving of the award.
“Jean Watt is the epitome of what we look for in the Citizen of The Year," Rosansky said. "She was named because of her decades of service to the city organizations that she founded and worked for; she is a self-less person.”
Watt has lived in Newport Beach since 1953,
where she raised a family and contributed to various civic groups before she
got involved with environmental issues and politics. In the 1970s Watt and a group of friends
started Stop Polluting Our Newport to help improve water quality.
In 1988 she was elected to the Newport Beach City Council where she served for eight years.
“This is a phenomenal city and it’s largely
because all of these people are so invested,” Watt said.