SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – Family and friends on Monday remembered a prominent San Diego couple who died in a tragic accident in Hawaii.
George and Gladys Novinger were swept over a waterfall while on vacation. On Monday, the body believed to be that of George was recovered.
The emotional vigil was held for the couple in Balboa Park.
“It’s so wonderful to see you guys all here celebrating their legacy,” said Saya Novinger, George Novinger’s daughter.
Through their pain, family members of the Novingers thanked the community of friends who came out to honor the couple.
“We are absolutely stunned group of people here today. Thank you so much. They loved you and you loved them,” said Anna Marie Novinger, George’s mother.
The vigil was hosted by the House of Peru in Balboa Park’s International Cottages. Gladys and her children helped found the House of Peru more than a decade ago.
“I dedicate my life to their legacy. They were the best of the best. They were loving, giving, fun beautiful people,” said Joe Harmes III.
Hawaii police said Gladys and George Novinger were crossing the Wailuku River, just above Rainbow Falls near Hilo when they were swept downriver by strong currents.
Together, George and Gladys owned Vineyard Hacienda in Spring Valley.
George served as a former diplomat of the State Department's Foreign Service, according to the couple’s website. The website also noted George had been posted in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Syria before retiring as the State Department’s regional director of foreign missions in Southwestern States.
George Novinger also served on the City of San Diego’s International Affairs Board and co-chaired the San Diego Diplomacy Council’s Advisory Board.