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Published: Saturday, 3/7/2009

Ex-Toledoan loves life in Honolulu

HONOLULU How many people return from Hawaii with tears and a promise to return?

That s the effect the islands had on Judy DeVilbiss and sons Steve and Jeff, but they did more than dream of future trips.

The former Toledoans now live happily in Honolulu, soothed by the aloha spirit and with two additions to the family: Jeff and his wife, Satoko, have a 3-year-old son, Tommy, named for his grandfather, the late Thomas DeVilbiss of Toledo.

Jeff moved to Honolulu in 2000 to attend Hawaii University of the Pacific. Steve joined him in 2002 after serving on the crew of a sailboat from San Diego.

Over coffee and crepes at the Cream Pot, her favorite stop after a daily morning walk, Judy explained her reason for the big moves, first from Toledo to California, and then to Hawaii. There is a time for everything, she said. We need to recognize when that time is over and move on.

She proved that in 2005 when Tom died in California after a long fight with cancer and their efforts to find help even in Mexico failed. He died Jan. 10 and she moved to Honolulu Oct. 5.

Everything about Hawaii, particularly Honolulu, suits her perfectly. The weather is ideal for walking and running competitions. She has found ways to expend energy in worthwhile community projects. Her business, Hawaiian Health, is even more accepted in Honolulu than it was in California.

And, best of all, her family is next door.

Judy, Steve, and Jeff invested in a four-unit building near Waikiki that needed repairs. Steve s carpentry skills are credited for the extensive renovation of the units. Jeff works in the food and beverage department at the Hilton Hotel.

Judy s early-morning routine is a six-mile fast-paced walk along Ala Wai Boulevard. It s the perfect exercise to prepare her for the races she enjoys and to conjure an appetite for fresh blueberry crepes at the Cream Pot.

The daily exercise obviously works. In February Judy placed third in her class in the Great Aloha Run, an 8.5-mile course from the Aloha Tower to the Aloha Stadium.

Back home from the daily run, she has only to go to the corner of the living room to get to her Hawaiian Health business office. She has been an independent distributor for Youngevity Co., an alternative health program, since 1994.

Friends and family were surprised when the socially active Toledo couple pulled up stakes in 1989 and moved from the DeVilbiss mansion on Corey Road to Monterey County in California, where they built a mountaintop home.

In Toledo Judy was active in the Toledo Opera Association and the Toledo Symphony, and often served as chairman of their major fund-raisers, the Sapphire Ball and Razzle Dazzle. She also was active in Lourdes College, was president of the auxiliary, and chairman of the Famous People Players.

Her theory is to get involved rather than just attend meetings. I have been doing that since PTA when the boys were in grade school, she said. It s a theory that works as well in Honolulu as it did in Toledo.

She is public safety chairman of the McCulley/Moiliili Neighborhood Board and chairman of House District 21, a political group encouraging people to vote and attend political events. The district database has 578 names; she either calls people or walks door to door.

She credits the neighborhood involvement for helping her to make new friends in Honolulu. And it is fun to know and have a say in what goes on in your own community, she added.

Judy is also coordinator of the Neighborhood Patrol. We walk the neighborhood. That gives me a chance for long evening walks.

What does the vivacious grandmother with the long, flowing white hair like about Honolulu? The local people who are so welcoming, the weather, the attitude, just everything is her answer.

When I get back here from a visit to Detroit or Toledo, or anywhere, it s wonderful. I want to kiss the ground. This is home now and I love it. I don t want to live anywhere else. How can anyone resist the aloha spirit?



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