Bill Waterman – Citizen of the Year


John Fazel is 2023 Volunteer of the Year

(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
The Orinda Association board member, Bill Waterman, was named 2023 Citizen of the Year. During his 20-plus years of community involvement, he has lent a hand to the city’s 4th of July parade and Classic Car Show and is a current member of the Orinda Rotary Club and the city’s Historical Landmark Committee.

    Bill Waterman has been involved in the community for more than two decades, as a board member of The Orinda Association (OA) since 2000, serving as its president from 2013 to 2016 and again in 2021, co-chairing the 4th of July Parade for four years and as a long-time co-chairman of the Annual Orinda Classic Car Show.
    Still, he was “pretty shocked” when he was named Orinda Citizen of the Year (COY). “I’m honored to receive the award,” said Waterman.
    The COY award dates back to the late 1940s and anyone can nominate a current Orinda resident who meets the requirements. The recipient is selected by a subcommittee of the Orinda Community Foundation (OCF), which works alongside various community partners to promote citizen engagement and community spirit, and in consultation with current COY recipient.
    “The tradition is important,” said OCF President Richard Westin. He believes the Citizen of the Year award is the highest honor an Orinda resident can receive. This year there were close to 10 Orindans considered for the title, which is more than usual.
    Waterman grew up in Orinda, attending Sleepy Hollow, Pine Grove and Miramonte High Schools before venturing north to the University of Oregon and earning B.S. and J.D. degrees. He moved back to his hometown in 1988 with his wife, Marie Waterman, also a fixture of the Orinda volunteer community.
    Bill worked as a high school teacher and a civil trial attorney for over 40 years. In 2016 he transitioned to working part-time as a mediator in the courts and also works privately to settle civil cases. During the past four years, he has taught at John F. Kennedy Law School, part of the National University online program.
    A lifelong hiker and backpacker, Bill has long supported environmental causes. “I’ve been interested in our physical environment since I was a kid growing up, starting in Boy Scouts and, later, going on Sierra Club hikes,” he said.
    A few years ago, he and some friends completed the 200-plus mile John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada range over about 10 years of weekends and trips.
    “We have this natural green space around us and these reservoirs and everything, so it’s a beautiful natural environment to be part of,” said Bill. “Life is stressful, getting out and getting outside, walking … whether it’s East Bay parks or wherever you can, it’s good for the body and mind.”
    Bill and Marie are devoted to their rescue terrier George. Marie volunteers with Hospice East Bay and takes George, a certified therapy dog, to visit patients with dementia.

Volunteer of the Year John Fazel
    Volunteer of the Year, John Fazel, has been active in the community for many years. A former real estate agent, he is best known for his knowledge of land use provisions in our area. He is the founder of Orinda RoadRunners running club. He also introduced the pancake breakfast into the 4th of July celebration.
    Fazel orchestrated the Three-Quarter Century Club luncheon honoring Orinda citizens 75 years and older. Funded by donations from local businesses, the club usually brings together over 100 Orindans.
    Fazel is now working with our schools to launch a California Mission Discovery Trail. He is also a member of the Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary Club. See page 7 to read about Fazel’s longtime marriage to Mary Lou.
    Waterman and Fazel will be honored at the OCF presentation dinner on Sunday, Nov. 5 at the Founder’s Auditorium, Orinda Community Center, 28 Orinda Way. The event begins at 6 p.m. and reservations are required at $75 per person. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

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