Unsung hero: Ken Nottle devotes his life to charity


Editor’s note: This is an installment of Unsung Heroes, an annual feature that highlights otherwise overlooked members of the community.

Charity has always been a defining part of Ken Nottle’s life.

The Newport Beach man started volunteering with Meals on Wheels in Costa Mesa in the early 1990s following his retirement from a career in accounting. A few months later, he joined the Corona del Mar-based chapter.

He worked with both for several years and eventually became the supervisor for the Newport Beach Meals on Wheels.


While the food is important to the recipients of the program, Nottle said the most valuable part of Meals on Wheels is the company provided to lonely seniors.

“So many people don’t see someone else all day long,” Nottle said. “They live waiting for that Meals on Wheels volunteer to show up at the door so they have someone to talk to and visit with.”

Spending time with others was also Nottle’s favorite part of the program. He fondly remembered his visits with a 106-year-old woman.

“She was a wonderful person and I loved visiting with her,” he said.

There also was a blind woman who was bound to her home, deeply in need of companionship.

“She had no company,” Nottle said. “Nobody went to see her it seemed. Even when I was supervising I would take time off and go see her because she needed that contact and friendship with another human being.”

Nottle has had to take a break from volunteering regularly with Meals on Wheels due to back problems, but he does occasionally ride with volunteers.

“In all the years I have known [Nottle], I have never met a person who had anything but something nice to say about him,” said Jurgen Froehlich, who has worked with him for about 15 years. “He is a very reserved person with a terrific sense of humor who shies away from the limelight.”

Nottle’s charitable nature seems to stem from his upbringing.

“I had the world’s most wonderful parents,” Nottle said. “They gave me everything I needed but not everything I wanted.

“They taught me that I needed to help others,” he said. “There is great satisfaction in life by just being a help to other people. What they said turned out to be so very true.”

Nottle declined to give his age, though said he was in his 80s.

His parents, Hannah and Chester, were members of the Salvation Army. Nottle has been working with the charity organization since his youth.

Nottle remembered when he was a child during World War II, his mother would take him to a Navy hospital in Long Beach, where they lived. One of his assignments was to talk to injured sailors, get their names and addresses, and write letters informing their families of their conditions.

Nottle said his parents acted with this charitable spirit despite being as “poor as church mice.”

Nottle still attends the Salvation Army church service every Sunday in Tustin. During a recent service, Nottle was struck by one of the minister’s stories.

A few weeks ago, a homeless man was situated next to a Salvation Army kettle near an Albertsons store in Tustin, said Nottle, recounting the minister’s speech.

The man was miming the motions of a violin player while watching a Salvation Army youth band perform. Another man walked up to the kettle , placed some money inside, then walked over to the destitute man, giving him some cash.

The homeless man, who later said he was a former orchestra violin player who’d fallen on hard times, immediately walked over and deposited the money into the kettle.

A stranger to the spotlight, Nottle initially was averse to being featured in an article. He prefers recognizing the charity of others.

“Its wonderful to have somebody that, even though he needed money, he was willing to help others,” Nottle said.



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