MARCO ISLAND — Marco Islanders know him for speaking his mind, and Monte Lazarus has provided proof in words and in deeds. They know him, too, for his compassion.
Lazarus was named Marco Island’s 2011 Citizen of the Year during ceremonies on Sunday at Christmas Island Style’s Holiday Gala. The award gala was sponsored in part by the Naples Daily News. The newspaper’s Publisher and President Dave Neill presented the award.
After retiring from a successful law career, Lazarus put his talents to work as a tenaciousness board member for more than a dozen organizations in Collier County. Drawing from his law background, he gave voice to many in dire straits as a board member for Avow Hospice, Lorenzo Walker Vo-Tech Center, the Civil Air Patrol Squadron and pro-bono legal advisor for the less fortunate.
On Marco Island, Lazarus serves as a multi-collaborative volunteer, often getting diverse groups to work together toward common goals. He is known for bridging thoroughness with persistence with an eye to strengthening the community.
Neill praised the power of Lazarus’s advocacy.
No one who knows this year’s recipient is ever in doubt about his position on any matter. He is a fierce advocate for the rights of others and is devoted to making this community a better place to live, he said.
Lazarus was raised in New York City and served in the U.S. Army. He graduated from Yale Law School and represented clients in various areas of law. He held the title of Assistant to the Chairman for the Civil Aeronautics Board in Washington, D.C., until 1973. Later, he became Senior Vice President for United Airlines until 1988 when he moved to Marco Island.
Craig Woodward, of the Law Firm of Woodward Pires & Lombardo and a prior recipient of the Citizen of the Year, called Lazarus a deserving candidate.
“Monte is the ‘go to’ guy,” Woodward said. “He knows practically everyone on the island and gets things done. He’s a real asset to the island.”
Lazarus served on five City of Marco Island advisory boards including the planning board, code enforcement board, charter review committee, Mackle Park’s planning committee and Veterans’ Community Park’s planning committee. He also worked on the Marco Island Healthcare Center Task Force.
He volunteered on the boards of the Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation, American Cancer Society, Greater Naples Leadership and a number of Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce committees where his wife, Sandi, is executive director.
“What I love about Monte is his vast knowledge about everything from J. Edgar Hoover to the minutest detail of what’s happening on Marco Island,” said Sandi Lazarus. “He’s always the one who listens to everything everyone says; and then, sums it up with an appropriate understanding of the situation. And he’s usually right.”
Pat Neale, former law partner, described his admiration for Lazarus.
“He is one of the most brilliant, compassionate, humorous and wonderful human beings I have ever known.”