The city Homer Bludau once ran is now giving back to him.
The retired Newport Beach city manager is the 2017 Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.
Bludau's fellow advisory committee members from the Newport Beach 1st Battalion 1st Marines Foundation, including chamber President Steve Rosansky, lured Bludau onto the lawn outside City Hall after a meeting late Monday afternoon on the pretense of taking a group photo. Then Rosansky gave his other reason for being there and brought out champagne for a toast.
Bludau, 71, has lived in Newport Beach for 18 years and was city manager from 1999 to 2009. Before leading Newport Beach, he managed the cities of Coronado, Rialto and Avenal.
The chamber's Citizen of the Year award honors individuals or couples who have long served the community. Previous honorees select the winners.
It was a unanimous vote for Bludau, said 2003 winner Scott Paulsen.
Bludau said this is the highest honor he's ever received.
"I've always respected the people who have been Citizen of the Year," he said of the award that was first given in 1949. "What an elite group of people."
Outside of Bludau's professional leadership duties, the Air Force and Vietnam War veteran was a founding member of the 1/1 Foundation, which supports the Camp Pendleton-based Marine unit, and is on the Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church parish council, the Environmental Nature Center board and the executive board of Visit Newport Beach. He's also a Chamber of Commerce Commodore and a past president of the Coastline Community College Foundation board and has been active with the Newport Beach Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
"I love this community and I love living here and being a part of it," he said. "I want to give back to it for being as good as it's been to me."
Rosansky, who was a Newport Beach mayor and city councilman from 2003 to 2012 and worked alongside Bludau, said Bludau's supportive leadership style made him a good fit for the city's top appointed position.
"He had the perfect personality for a city manager and had the respect of his employees," Rosansky said.
Bludau will be honored at a Chamber of Commerce dinner Nov. 3.
Recent Newport Beach Citizens of the Year
2017: Homer Bludau
2016: John and Elizabeth Stahr
2015: Paul Watkins
2014: Jack and Nancy Skinner
2013: Jean Watt
2012: No award given
2011: Tom Johnson
2010: Ralph Rodheim
2009: Norm Loats
2008: Lula Halfacre
2007: Evelyn Hart