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Vigil Held for Local Couple Who Died in Hawaii

Gladys Novinger, 62, of Spring Valley was on a river outing with her husband George Novinger on Saturday, Nov. 25.

More than 100-people gathered in Balboa Park for a candlelight vigil to honor a couple who died in Hawaii.

Gladys Novinger, 62, of Spring Valley was on a river outing with her husband George Novinger on Saturday, Nov. 25.

While crossing the Wailuku River above Rainbow Falls, Gladys Novinger was swept over the waterfall. 

She was found in the pool below the falls and was airlifted to Hilo Medical Center where she died. 

Hawaii Fire Department Search and Rescue looked for George Novinger for five days. Heavy rain and flash flooding hampered the search efforts.

On Friday, a body was discovered approximately 35 feet down a cliff line along the coastline. 

It was identified only as an adult male, police said. 

The Novingers were reportedly in Hawaii to visit family in the area. The couple own Vineyard Hacienda in Spring Valley.

Gladys Novinger helped to found the House of Peru, which is in the process of having its own cottage built at the International Cottages in Balboa Park.

George Novinger recently retired as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department's Foreign Service. He also served as the Chairman of the International Cottage Committee and spoke last year to NBC 7 about the group's efforts to expand the International Cottages to include more nine additional nations including Mexico, India, Palestine and Peru.

Dozens gathered to honor the couple at the House of Pacific Relations in Balboa Park Monday Night. 

Friends and family of the Novinger's said the couple was passionate about life and willing to give so much back to the community.

"We are deeply saddened to lose Gladys, wonderful Gladys and our son George. And we are very appreciative of all the people coming today to honor their memory," George Novinger's mother Anne Marie said.

Gladys Novinger's son spoke and held back tears as he told the gathering how fortunate he was to be a part of their lives.

"They were the best of the best, they were loving, they were giving, fun, beautiful, wonderful people," said Joseph Harmes.

Board members of the House of Peru who worked very closely with the Novingers spoke and vowed to carry on their legacy.

Groundbreaking for the cottage is set for next month and the board members said it will be named in the couple's honor.

The Rainbow Falls waterfall stands about 80 feet high and is a popular tourist attraction located on the northwest border of Hilo.

With a viewing area just east of the falls, people can walk out onto the rocks and get a close view of the waterfall from above.

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