Monte L. Widders’s selection as the recipient of the Ben E. Nordman 2013 Public Service Award follows more than four decades of legal practice and widespread involvement in Ventura County’s legal world, and extensive contributions to the broader community we serve. He was admitted to the State Bar of California and the federal bar for the Central District of California in 1970. In 1975, he was admitted to the United States Supreme Court.
In 1966, Widders earned a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA, where he played second base on the freshman baseball team. Widders left UCLA for the Gould School of Law at USC, where he earned his Juris Doctorate in 1969. Widders stayed in Los Angeles after law school and began his career with a large firm there. In 1971, he opened his own practice in Santa Barbara and worked part-time with former VCBA president J. Roger Myers in 1972 and 1973 in Ventura. In 1974, he formed a law partnership with Myers. That partnership is known today as Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones & Feingold, L.L.P., and has 17 attorneys.
Always sensitive about growing old, when Widders approached his fortieth birthday he fretted for half a year. Now, Mary Moros – Widders’s secretary of 35 years – and Gloria Tovias – the firm’s paralegal of 37 years – as well as Myers are always there to remind him when his Aug. 6 birthday approaches.
Born in Burbank, Monte was raised in San Diego. He now lives in Ojai with his wife, Cheryl. They have four sons, Evan, Blair, Drew and Reid. Monte barbecued before Evan, Blair and Drew’s Nordhoff football home games. Every year, Monte and all four boys traveled to the Sierras for fishing trips. Until last year, they often skied together at Mammoth, based in a condo Widders owns with Lee Gibson and Myers.
Now, Evan is a professor at the University of West Virginia. Blair and Drew practice law at the same firm in Sacramento. Reid is a student at the University of West Virginia. The Widders’ have six grandchildren and are expecting two more.
As a lawyer, Monte’s community and public service is diverse and well-rounded. It includes:
• Rotary International – Membership and active participation for over 39 years. Past President of the Ventura-East Rotary Club and served as Lieutenant Governor for District 5240. Chairman of the Rotary Centennial Celebration Committee and served as Rotary Foundation Chairman for many years. In 1999, Widders was honored as the “Rotarian of the Year” for District 5240 and received the Citation for Meritorious Service from the Rotary Foundation.
• Ojai Valley Youth Foundation – Past Director and Chair of the Ojai Valley Golf Classic.
• Past President and Board Member, Monica Ros School, Ojai.
• Past Board Member, Ojai Presbyterian Session.
Monte has also given generously to the legal profession. Some of the activities include:
• Community Associations Institute, Channel Islands Chapter – Co-founded the Chapter in 1979 and served as its Director. He served as President of the Association in 1983.
• Former Councilman, City of Carpinteria, 1974-1978.
• Mayor, City of Carpinteria, 1978.
• City Attorney, City of Ojai, 1980-2011.
• Assistant City Attorney, City of Fillmore, 1992-2012.
• Tri-Counties Local Government Attorneys’ Association, Past President, Member.
• Member of the editorial board for the League of California Cities, Municipal Law Handbook Committee.
• Ventura County Bar Association, Member of the Board of Directors.
• Arbitrator of attorney fee’s disputes in the Ventura County Bar Association Attorney/Client Relations program.
• Special counsel for numerous municipalities, counties and other public entities.
He has also provided legal assistance to a number of charitable organizations and affordable housing non-profit corporations including:
• Ojai Valley Youth Foundation.
• Ojai Education Foundation.
• Habitat for Humanity, Ventura County, Inc.
• Cabrillo Economic Development Corp.
• Better Business Bureau of the Tri-Counties.
J. Roger Meyers is a partner with Mr. Widders and a previous Nordman Award recipient in 2007.