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My OC: Ginny Ueberroth Says to Health with You

A new endowment for Hoag Hospital is just one of the ways Laguna Beach's Ginny Ueberroth champions health for all.

Ginny and husband, Peter Ueberroth, recently celebrated “699 months together.” He stands behind her commitment to improving healthcare. “Women have so many different kinds of pressure on them, I don't think the average man can understand,” she says.

Today when people see Ginny Ueberroth, they see the well-heeled chair of the influential Ueberroth Family Foundation and the longtime partner of Peter – onetime baseball commissioner, chairman of the United States Olympic Committee and presidential candidate. But some part of Ueberroth will always be that young wife and mother of four in the 1970s who had to navigate a breast cancer diagnosis in the days when that often equaled a death sentence.

This slim grandmother with a wide smile and bobbed hair credits “excellent care” at Hoag Hospital with her recovery, and that experience made her a passionate advocate for giving all women access to better health care. In June the Ueberroths gave $5 million to the Hoag Hospital Foundation to establish the Ginny Ueberroth Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair, Hoag Women’s Health Institute, with an eye to developing a one-stop shop approach to women’s clinical care throughout the county.

“A man can go have a physical and it is one stop; women can’t. We have to go here for a mammogram and there for a pap smear. We have a lot more women in the workplace; we have a lot more mothers who don’t have a lot of time to be running all over. When a woman is not taken care of, what happens to the family?” Ueberroth throws up her hands as she talks.

Coast wanted to know what this champion of others does for herself:

Where I live: Laguna. We have been in this home for almost 30 years.

Why I live here: I was born and raised in Long Beach, and we used to come down to Laguna almost every Sunday. My dad loved to drive and he had to work hard six days a week, but on Sunday he would play golf and then he would bring us down into Laguna and have dinner. Where the museum is now there used to be a restaurant, and that was for special occasions. The other place we went to was the Royal Hawaiian; it was there a long, long time, and I used to come there as a kid. When our kids were little, we would take them for dinner there too, and it was such a big deal! My husband, he has a step-grandfather who had a home in Laguna, and he spent a couple weeks there for several summers and just loved it. And we like the water. Peter was a water polo player and has always been fond of the water, and I grew up on the beach. We lived in the Valley for a long time; then after Peter finished with the Olympics, we went to New York but had a summer home here, so when we came back, we moved to Orange County.

My perfect day: I have a perfect day oftentimes now on Saturdays. Peter goes to play golf, and I’ll meet a daughter – maybe a couple of daughters – and maybe a grandchild or two, or three, depending. We’ll have breakfast down in Laguna, then go to the outdoor market, which we really enjoy; it’s just a fun community thing. Then I come home, and Peter comes home – he always brings lunch. In the afternoon we always find something fun to do. If the weather is nice, we go down to the beach. That is another thing about living on the beach – grandkids always want to come, and you don’t have to ask them. It’s “Grandma, is it OK if we show up?” I have told several neighbors that’s the secret to luring grandkids.

Favorite getaway: We have a farm way up in northern Idaho.  That’s the getaway. It is just so different – not a lot of people around. It’s just very rural.

Sanctuary: Probably in the forest. I like walking in the trees. I like walking on the beach too, but it is harder to have peace and quiet on the beach.

Favorite activity: One of the things Peter and I really enjoy is playing bridge. We have a number of couples we will get together with, have dinner and play cards.

The better bridge player: Me. Well, I play a lot more than he does. Both our parents played and helped us learn, then when we were first married, we had no money and playing bridge was the one thing we could do. Then we didn’t play for a long time but we have gone back to it. It is very relaxing, a nice way to spend an evening.

Favorite place to shop that is not a chain: This is really a crazy one – Coastal Cool [in Newport Beach]. I like it. I can get wonderful gifts there. Some of the necklaces they have are kind of different, and it’s not an arm and a leg to get something cute.

Best celebrity encounter: Our experience when we met Prince Charles and Princess Diana. It was in the White House when they came for dinner many years ago, and that was an unbelievable evening. To add to it, my favorite singer is Neil Diamond, and he happened to be there. He had done a fundraiser for us during the Olympics at the request of friends, so he remembered who we were. We didn’t know anyone else there, basically, so we kind of became friendly that night. Then he was singing, and we were in the rotunda of the White House. The band was playing “Twelfth of Never,” and we were dancing there. I thought, this is unbelievable. Princess Diana was so charming, warm and welcoming to everyone, and Prince Charles – Peter was sitting at his table, and they had such a fun, special evening. Afterwards – we were staying right across the street at the hotel there, and we were the only ones who came in a taxi. [Laughs] I know! But we were right across the street; we didn’t want to hire a car. So, after, we walked home. We walked down the front stairs of the White House, and it had snowed, a light snow. It was just a fairy tale.

Pet peeve: Which one? Bikers on Coast Highway who don’t stay in their lane. I don’t get it.  The weekends are the worst, especially when you have to come around those corners in Laguna.

Personal motto: Hmm. One of my feelings is to enjoy every day. I have been very blessed. It is easy sometimes to get upset about things, but I try not to let that happen.

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