How does one win "Man of the Year"? It probably depends on the city. In Redondo Beach, it took the recovery and restoration of a surf monument--the bronze bust of George Freeth. Of course, Bob Meistrell did more than resurrect a stolen statue, but this act of dedication was part of what brought about his recent recognition.
"It is truly an honor to be named Man of the Year," said Bob Meistrell. "That bust of George Freeth was a piece of Redondo Beach history, there was no way I could just let something like that happen to our city."
Meistrell, the co-founder of Body Glove, received Redondo Beach's "Man of the Year Award" on June 12, 2009. Only, he didn't know what was in store for him when he showed up that night at the Portofino Hotel. His son, Robbie Meistrell, who was also recognized, received the "Starfish Award" for the work he did to enhance the lobster festival at Redondo Beach. "That was the cover to get him to go," Robbie Meistrell said. "I've been to a million awards dinners for him. I said, 'Dad, I went to all of these for you, now you have to come to one for me.' It was a total surprise."
There were about 300 people at the awards banquet, and when the Chamber of Commerce started to present the award, Meistrell still had no idea he was about to be honored. His son explained the scene: "They started talking about this guy in Redondo Beach. It was all very general, you know. And then they said 'I'm sure he'd rather accept this award with his other half,' and at that point he knew who it really was." (Meistrell co-founed Body Glove with his twin brother.)
The accomplished man was recognized for the philanthropic work he has done since his retirement. According to his son, he has auctioned off rides on his Body Glove Yacht, The Disappearnce over 800 times to raise money for charity. Meistrell has worked to keep the harbor clean and sat on several boards including the Catalina Conservancy, the Switzer Learning Foundation, the Steering Committee of the SeaLab, and the Finance Committee of the Cabrillo Aquarium.
Robbie Meistrell explained that his father is usually a man of many words. But this time they "surprised him so much he didn't have much to say. And we were all cracking up." Redondo's newest Man of the Year has received many awards throughout the years. "But it is always a proud moment for us, and it was great to see him up there," his son said.