SAN DIEGO – Hundreds of friends and family gathered Monday night to remember the Spring Valley couple who was killed while on their Hawaiian vacation last week.
Gladys and George Novinger died when they were swept over the 80-foot Rainbow Waterfall on the big island of Hawaii. They were swept into the strong current of the Wailuku River above the falls Saturday night.
Oscar Urteaga, a friend and colleague, spoke during the Novinger’s vigil. As many as 200 people gathered in the International Village at Balboa Park.
“This large showing is a true testament to the impact they had,” said Urteaga. “They were the best of the best, loving, giving, beautiful and fun."
Joseph Harmes III, Gladys Novinger's son, ran the Novinger’s bed and breakfast Vineyard Hacienda in Spring Valley with the couple.
“I got to see them every single day and I’ll miss that more than anything,” said Harmes. He said they loved the family business, but their true passion was giving back to the San Diego community.
“They told me once, 'You reach our age Joseph, you’ll realize how important it is to share to give to get to know people,'” said Harmes.
Together, the Novingers touched countless lives.
“Gladys was part of an organization that gave help to battered women,” said Marisol Mayer, a friend. “She helped so many Peruvians and people from other countries.”
George recently retired as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service.
“He was always happy always bringing a positive vibe. They’re both going to be truly missed,” said Urteaga.
The Novingers will carry on their legacy in Balboa Park at the House of Peru, Gladys started and the cottage George would have helped to build.
“I know she’s going to witness everything that will continue to grow from all the seeds she planted,” said Harmes.
Construction on the House of Peru cottage is scheduled for January.