NEWPORT BEACH — A founding member of the Newport Beach Harbor Commission reportedly lost his battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Ralph Rodheim, who once owned Balboa Boat Rentals at Newport Beach’s Fun Zone, passed away Feb. 5 after a long fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to news reports. He was 72.
The one-time Wooden Hull Yacht Club member served on the Newport Beach Harbor Commission for 11 years before retiring from his post in 2013. His tenure was the commission’s longest-ever. The Harbor and Marine Uses permit in Newport Beach’s General Plan was developed during Rodheim’s time on the commission.
Sailing was in Rodheim’s blood since his days as a youth, when he sailed aboard a Rhodes 33 and competed with his father in the Newport-to-Ensenada Race. Later in life he purchased Madness, a Rhodes sailboat. Rodheim also sailed internationally with Chapman University students as part of a Semester at Sea program.
The sailor and former harbor commissioner also taught middle and high school. Rodheim also served in Vietnam and, after teaching, pursued a marketing career. In addition to co-founding the Newport Beach Harbor Commission, Rodheim also helped found West Mark Savings Bank.
Newport Beach’s Chamber of Commerce recognized him as Citizen of the Year in 2010.
“Ralph was generous not only with his money, but more importantly, with his time,” Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Rosansky said in a released statement. “Ralph was very active over the years in Balboa Village and served with distinction as President of the Balboa Village [Business Improvement District] and its successor, the Balboa Village Merchants Association.”
Funeral arrangements were not announced as of press time.