The Malibu Times Hosts 25th Annual Dolphin Awards Ceremony

The Malibu Times honored local citizens for their contributions to the community in 2014 at the 25th annual Dolphin Awards ceremony. Pictured, from left: Joel and Kian Schulman, Hillary Sturgeon, Romy Rapoport, Maggie Luckerath, Terry Adamson, Steven Weinberg and Graeme Clifford.

The Malibu Times hosted the 25th Annual Dolphin Awards ceremony at the Malibu West Beach Club last Sunday, honoring a dozen local citizens of the year, who were selected through a nomination process.

Coordinator Mary Higgins organized the event, which offered a selection of food from Monrose Catering as well as wine from Malibu Family Semler Wines. Decorations were provided from Maliballoons and Isarose Flowers. 

Among the hundreds in attendance were representatives from the offices of Ted Lieu, Sheila Kuehl, Fran Pavley and Richard Bloom; Malibu City Councilmembers Laura Rosenthal, Lou La Monte and Skylar Peak; and representatives from the Sheriff’s and Fire Departments.

Notably absent were the publishers of The Malibu Times, Arnold and Karen York, who have always served as co-hosts of the event. A letter from Karen York read aloud to the group by event planner Higgins explained that they were in Prescott, Ariz., following the death of their son Clay after a two-year battle with cancer.

Cantor Marcello Gindlin of the Malibu Jewish Center & Synagogue (MJCS) offered the invocation. “I thought about the dolphin and what it means to our community,” he said. “How can we be here celebrating when our leaders, who have pulled us all together, are suffering today?” he asked. “But they have asked us to carry on without them.”

Gindlin noted that dolphins are “inspiring, healing, playful and joyful” and “work as a community to surround each other and protect the weak … so, like dolphins, we surround Karen and Arnold with our protecting energy.” There was a short moment of prayer focusing on the background sound of the waves on the beach.

Acting co-hosts and ceremony emcees were Scott Tallal, head of the Malibu Film Society, and Julie Ellerton, The Malibu Times multimedia director. A previous Dolphin Award winner presented each award.

Steven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg received a special Dolphin Award known as the Harvey Baskin Award for “contributions to Malibu and the welfare of its residents by a local Malibu businessperson.” Weinberg and his law firm, Holmes Weinberg, PC, were recognized for supporting various Malibu nonprofit organizations with free legal services, business advice, board membership and/or financial contributions, including the Malibu Film Society, Malibu Playhouse, Malibu Dolphin Charitable Foundation, Malibu Community Labor Exchange and MJCS.

Tallal presented him not only with the usual dolphin statue and gold pin, but a specially adapted poster he made, “Better Call Steve,” modeled after the website cartoon for TV’s “Better Call Saul” — the offshoot series from “Breaking Bad.” Weinberg thanked, among others, “the people who gave me grants and scholarships at the beginning of my career, which taught me how important it is to give back.”

Terry & Grant Adamson

In perhaps the first Dolphin Award to be presented posthumously, Terry Adamson accepted the award presented to her and her now-deceased husband, Grant, by Dolphin Anne Payne, for various joint and individual contributions to the community. 

Terry Adamson said when she and her two daughters Lauren and Megan spread Grant’s ashes in the ocean, “A school of dolphins came up — a mother and two babies — and it was like a sign.” She was very touched that Grant was also honored with a Dolphin Award, because “it made him so happy to help people.” She talked about moving to Serra Retreat with Grant after their marriage 31 years ago, and how Malibu became her town, too. 

Michele & Rob Reiner

The Reiners won their award for taking it upon themselves to finance and campaign for Measure R — a ballot measure that was voted on by the citizens of Malibu in last November’s election. It passed, giving Malibu residents the right to vote on large commercial development projects (but is now tied up with litigation from developers). 

The Malibu Times said giving the Reiners a Dolphin Award for their work on Measure R was not a political statement, but a recognition of them caring enough about Malibu to “put their political know-how, energy, reputation, influence, intelligence and money behind something they believed would benefit the entire community now and in the years to come.”

Dolphin Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner presented the award to stand-in Dick Van Dyke. Van Dyke said he’d known Rob Reiner since he was 15. “Rob was always talented and political even at a young age. He’s been quietly behind many good things that have happened in our town.” 

Maggie Luckerath

Although moving to Malibu full-time only five years ago, Maggie was nominated for her tireless efforts and “making things happen” on behalf of numerous local organizations, including the Malibu Film Society, Malibu Playhouse and Rotary Club. Now nicknamed “Mama-Bu,” Dolphin Kim Bonewitz presented her award, whose eight children have also been the beneficiaries of Luckerath’s kindness. 

Bonewitz said Luckerath has “become one of the most loved and respected people in Malibu … She worked hard on a farm, then in the nursing field, and, in Malibu, has fed the homeless, cared for the sick, and helped out countless organizations and events.”

Luckerath credits her mother and a nun in New Jersey as being the two biggest positive influences in her life and thanked her husband of 47 years, Hubert. 

Graeme Clifford

Dolphin Deborah LaGorce Kramer described Clifford as “an amazing local hero, ceaseless in his commitment to making Malibu a better place.” She cited the long lists of his civic accomplishments, participating in numerous commissions and task forces over the decades he’s resided in Malibu, and attending many city meetings to give public input. He’s credited with getting the “Graeme Clifford amendment” passed, which allows residents of unincorporated Malibu to serve on commissions and committees. 

Clifford said he first came to Malibu in 1971, where he rented a place on the beach for $80 a month. “If I’d known then what I know now, I would’ve fought harder for rent control!” he laughed. But he got serious when it came to talking about preserving the Malibu way of life. “The reason all of us get involved here is to preserve what we have — the open space,” Clifford said. “Sixty percent of the voters voted for Measure R — the Reiners gave everyone in this room a say in what happens in the future. Malibu has been under siege from day one, and if it could be turned into strip malls, it would be. If the county had put in the sewers, we’d have high-rises by now.”

He urged others to get involved in the community. “It’s difficult giving up free time for your community, but if you care about it and want it to be all it can be, we all need to get out there. Let’s keep this a place where we want to live.”

Romy Karz Rapoport

Rapoport’s award recognized all the love and support she has received from so many of Malibu’s new mothers and families through her services as a childbirth educator, labor doula, breastfeeding consultant and yoga/pregnancy class instructor. She was also recognized for starting the Malibu chapter of La Leche League two years ago, a nonprofit breastfeeding support and education group. 

Dolphin Janet Etinger said that in the wild, “when a female dolphin becomes pregnant, she chooses another female to accompany her through her pregnancy and birth.” She said that’s what Romy also does — support and take care of the mother. 

Rapoport emphasized the importance of La Leche League in helping new mothers, saying that health experts recommend breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, yet many mothers find “it’s not that easy. Many end up quitting because they don’t have the support or the knowledge.”

Kian & Joel Schulman

The Schulmans were instrumental in getting rodenticides (rat poisons) pulled from the shelves of Malibu retailers, convincing most local shopping centers to stop putting out rat poison, and getting the city council to pass a ban on rat poison. Rodenticides easily enter the food chain, where they are responsible not only for killing rats, but all the wildlife that eat them, including raptors, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. 

Dolphin Ann Buxie said that Malibu’s mission statement, which talks about preserving the environment, “needs to be part of our pledge of allegiance” in Malibu — “especially the way rodenticides are destroying our wildlife and the environment.” 

Kian Schulman said, “Ignorance is the worst thing that affects our society,” and explained how anticoagulants work. She hopes to eventually bring their message to “the entire coast,” and has already had numerous successes, including bans in many nearby cities, talks with UCLA and Ventura County, and agreements from Pepperdine, the Malibu Golf Club and numerous local restaurants to stop using rat poisons. 

Hillary Sturgeon

Hillary Sturgeon received a special Dolphin Award given each year to a “younger” Malibu citizen, usually a high school student. Citing her work to help children in Kenya as well as doing things to help the laborers at the Malibu Community Labor Exchange (MCLE), the award was presented by Dolphin Oscar Mondragon of MCLE. 

“Think of who you were and what you were doing at the age of 17,” Mondragon said, inviting comparison to what Sturgeon has already accomplished at that young age. 

Hillary said it was “a privilege to be surrounded by other people who are so passionate about what they do,” and that “Oscar has influenced what I want to do with my life, and I’m encouraged to continue doing this work in the future.”

Steve McPeters Band

A set of surprise Dolphin Awards were presented to each of the four members of the Steve McPeters Band. The members, Steve McPeters, Chris Cruse, Sarah Brennan and David McPeters, have served as the house band, playing at each of the Dolphin Awards ceremonies.