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First female skipper of the Commodores Club helms final meeting of her term

Marie Case, first female skipper of the Commodores Club, Newport Beach, conducts the final meeting of her term Friday.
Marie Case, first female skipper of the Commodores Club, Newport Beach, conducts the final meeting of her year-long term Friday at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Corona del Mar.
(Susan Hoffman)

“Commodores Cruising in Cars Getting Coffee” was the theme of a consolation event suggested by Marie Case as she became the first female skipper of the Commodores Club in Newport Beach just as the pandemic was beginning.

“I came up with the ‘Commodores Cruising’ idea because [fellow member] John Curci would Zoom into the meetings from his vehicle with his phone on the dash and it looked like [the web series] ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,’” Case recalled.

With the pandemic-forced cancellations of all of the organization’s public events — along with in-person meetings and private gatherings — Skipper Case’s priority was to sustain the members’ interest by focusing instead on internal activities.

Commodore Marie Case Cruising for Coffee with former Commodore Skipper Tom Johnson driving his convertible T-Bird.
Commodore Marie Case Cruising for Coffee with former Commodore Skipper Tom Johnson driving his convertible T-Bird in front of Muldoon’s Irish Pub in Newport Beach, on April 2, 2021.
(Susan Hoffman)

“It was challenging because I had to change the entire agenda,” said Case. “We had no events and I had to fill up the agenda to keep members connected.”

The Commodores Club, an arm of the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, marked its 60 years of service in 2020 and named its first female skipper that same year. Previously scheduled celebratory events to mark those milestones had to be canceled.

The mission of the club is set forth on the chamber’s website. It was established “to encourage business investment and involvement in the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce and provide leadership and support for special events that benefit the Chamber membership and the community.”

The club has 35 active members and six executive officers including the skipper at the top level and is known for orchestrating about nine community events throughout the year including the annual Christmas Boat Parade.

Case, who has a background in advertising, runs her own marketing services company, Case Communications. A Newport Beach resident since 1987, she joined the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s and was elected into the Commodores Club in 2010.

“I had a mindset to join an organization to be part of the community,” said Case. “After I got to know more about what the Commodores do, I got interested in making a contribution of my time.”

Among the public events the Commodores host are the fire, police, and lifeguard, appreciation dinners, athletic, and scholarship awards dinners, a boat race, Sandcastle Contest, the Christmas boat parade and Ring of Lights contest and awards dinner, which Case has chaired for seven years.

Marie Case, first female zkipper of the Commodores Club, Newport Beach, conducts her final meeting Friday.
Marie Case, first female skipper of the Commodores Club, Newport Beach, conducts her final meeting Friday at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Corona del Mar, on May 14, 2021.
(Susan Hoffman)

The member only business and social events consist of monthly breakfast meetings, Christmas Brunch, Ferry Cruise, annual party and mixers, which were replaced during COVID-19 by a tailgate party, virtual happy hour and, of course, the coffee cruises.

In the early days the membership was all male, until 2004 when Linda Beimfohr was elected the first female member. Today there are four women in the club.

“I was honored to join the Commodores when I did 14 years ago and delighted to see additional female Commodores who are hard working and committed to making a difference,” said Beimfohr. “Marie’s contribution has made a difference, she is a ‘doer’ and has contributed her expertise, energy and ‘can-do’ attitude to the Commodores Club for over a decade.”

Beimfohr said it was impressive to see Case take over the helm as skipper after seeing her move up the ranks within the Commodores Club. “Marie Case loves serving the Newport Beach community,” said Beimfohr. “It has been an honor and lots of fun to serve with her.”

When the torch was passed over Zoom to induct Case as the skipper last June, fellow Commodore, David Beek had a prank up his sleeve.

Beek had chosen to use his business logo rather than a live shot for the meeting and as the “congratulations to first woman skipper” was announced. He switched the static image for a live shot, himself emerging as a woman donning a wig, makeup, jewelry, and his wife’s blouse.

“I hate to steal your thunder, Marie, but I think I was the first woman skipper,” announced Beek, laughing. “Zoom meetings are kind of a bummer and this was why I did it to make it a little more fun.”

Beek explained that he has chaired the Christmas boat parade for the last 14 years and ever since Case became a member of the Commodores, she has been on the committee. “She’s very fun, very spirited, very imaginative, energetic and smart,” said Beek. “She has great ideas and is a great person all around.”

Case led her final meeting Friday at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Corona del Mar, where, now in the waning days of the pandemic, the group could gather in person.

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