Marina del Rey photographer Greg Wenger was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for 38 years of exemplary community service by Alex Rosales, president of the Venice-Marina Rotary Club on Thursday, April 19th, at the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey.
Wengerís award was given at a ceremony celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Venice-Marina Rotary Club.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl — who represents the 11th District, which includes Marina del Rey — also presented Wenger with a special award certificate from the City of Los Angeles in recognition of Wengerís community service.
Rotary district governor Scot Clifford presented Wenger and his wife Mimi with a plaque and administered the oath to become “honorary Venice-Marina Rotarians,” asking them to promise to “Continue to place Service above Self (the Rotarian motto), pay dues, attend meetings on time, at least occasionally, as is the case of most Rotarians, and to do everything that ëPresident Alexí asks me to do.”
Rosales was laughing as he noted that only Mimi had repeated the last request and that Greg had cleverly said nothing.
Willie Hjorth, longtime member of the boating community and a former president of the Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, did the honor of placing Rotarian pins on both Greg and Mimi.
Thanking the club and audience for his award, Wenger, originally from New York, said he and his family had come to Marina del Rey in the late 1960s to visit a relative, and after returning home and experiencing a blizzard, began considering a move to Southern California.
“I always felt a strange need to live near the ocean,” said Wenger, and after the visit to Marina del Rey, the calm, warm ocean, the beautiful weather, the amazingly light traffic — the remark about the traffic drew raucous laughter from the audience — and the exciting nightlife, he was even more inspired to move to Marina del Rey.
Bringing his “trusty Nikon camera and hundreds of rolls of Kodachrome film” with him on his visit, he had viewed photos after that visit during the blizzard and seriously thought about the photographic opportunities and clients that could be found in the Marina area.
In June of 1969, Wenger came back to Los Angeles, and then returned home and sold the family home in New York, and within a few weeks Mimi and their young children flew to Los Angeles.
“I followed them out in my red 1967 Ford Mustang on famous Route 66,” said Wenger.
Wenger credits the late David Asper Johnson, founder, editor and publisher of The Argonaut, with giving him his start by hiring Wenger as a photographer for the newspaper.
A black-and-white video was shown at the celebration, with Wenger narrating his interaction with the newspaper and Johnson, in a fun-filled look at some of the activities (with Johnson providing the humorous expressions and poses) at the newspaper, paying homage to Johnson.
Unable to attend the event because of a prior family commitment in Florida, Carol Hector, current editor and publisher of The Argonaut, submitted a “Thank you, Greg” letter that was printed in the event program.
Hector wrote, in part, “Both The Argonaut and Marina del Rey owe you a great debt.
“In your photos you have captured the day-to-day events, both great and small, of Marina del Rey and surrounding areas.
“Without your work, much of the ëhistoryí of the Marina would have been lost.
“We are grateful for your past and future efforts to preserve that history.”
Wengerís own history includes serving in the Korean War in the 3rd Infantry Division.
He became president of the Marina Chamber of Commerce and the Marina Foundation, a charitable foundation which added the nautical addition to the Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey Library. The community room of that library was named after Greg and Mimi “through the auspices of David Asper Johnson,” according to Wengerís program profile.
Currently, Wenger is a director of the Los Angeles County Sheriffís Department Marina Station Support Unit and Community Advisory Committee, and is an alternate director of the Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In addition, he is a director of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce and chairs the Marina Affairs Committee.
Wenger also advises the Holiday Boat Parade and continues as a photographer for The Argonaut, as well as several corporate clients.