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Ex-Costa Mesa police chief to join Newport Harbor High Hall of Fame

Roger Neth, a former Costa Mesa police chief, will be inducted into the Newport Harbor High School Hall of Fame, the campus alumni association announced Thursday.

Neth, 89, who was the Costa Mesa Police Department's second chief from 1964 to 1986, is among the 15 inductees chosen this year for the hall, which the association established in 2014. The announcement came during the group's regular breakfast gathering at Mimi's Cafe in downtown Costa Mesa.

Neth graduated from the Newport Beach campus in 1944. There, he played football and was on a 1942 championship team.

Neth said in an interview that he knew he had been nominated for the hall but didn't feel he would be chosen. Thus, Thursday's announcement came as a surprise.

"I'm very proud to have received it," he said. "I think this honor should be shared with all those good people who helped me form the Police Department … and to my family who took care of all the necessary things while I wasn't home."

"I'm certainly very, very proud of him," said current Costa Mesa Police Chief Rob Sharpnack. "It just goes to show you how well-entrenched he is in this community. Even to this day, he continues to be such a great representative of everything he embodied as chief.

"He's just a people person, a great ambassador."

Sharpnack attended Thursday's announcement, as did Tom Gazsi, a former Costa Mesa police chief who now heads the Los Angeles Port Police.

Gazsi called Neth a mentor. "He's a wonderfully deserving man," Gazsi said.

Corrine Heiser, the alumni association's director, said Neth was chosen Wednesday by a panel of faculty, alumni and former teachers.

"It's actually a very mixed group of people," she said. "We all come up with different ideas."

Other Hall of Fame inductees this year include Newport Beach City Councilman and Duffy Electric Boat Co. founder Marshall "Duffy" Duffield; Associate Justice David Thompson of the California Court of Appeal; "Married ... With Children" actor Ted McGinley; former Orange Coast College President David Grant; and Dr. Mahlon "Bob" DeLong, an Emory University medical school professor known for brain research.

The induction ceremony is scheduled for June 1 at Newport Harbor's Robert B. Wentz Theatre.

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