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Melinda Underkofler welcomes newcomers as the club’s president

Melinda Underkofler, Photo: Courtesy

Melinda Underkofler is the president of the La Jolla Newcomers Club for 2010-2011. She moved here from Honolulu, Hawaii where she lived and taught elementary and middle school for almost 30 years.

Retiring was her original plan, but when she was offered the job of teaching Ancient Civilizations and World History to grades 6-8 at Nazareth School, Mission San Diego de Alcala, she jumped back into education.

Underkofler has two daughters, Abby, a teacher at All Hallows Academy, and Amy, a logistics program analyst for FEMA in Washington DC.

She said she was happy to accept the position of president of the Newcomers Club (

www.lajollanewcomers.org

) because “it was time to give back to an organization where I received so much. Through the book club, luncheons, and other activities, I was graciously welcomed to La Jolla and have made so many wonderful friends.”

What brought you to La Jolla?

I lived in San Diego in the early 1970s and remembered how perfect it was. This time, I wanted to live in a place where I could walk everywhere and have cute places to visit for coffee and lunch. Hawaii didn’t really offer those choices, except in Waikiki.

What makes this area special to you?

It’s being able to walk along the beautiful Pacific Ocean and have the perfect climate, plus having a Newcomers Club that is so welcoming and offers so many fun activities.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

Seriously, I can’t think of a thing. Perhaps because I am a newcomer, I feel so fortunate to be here. The first thing that got my attention was the stop signs; much less road rage when everyone pauses, breathes, and takes turns. Living on Oahu where traffic was more congested, stop lights just created more frustration.

Who or what inspires you?

It’s the subject of history; and studying, teaching, and visiting places like Damascas, Istanbul and Florence.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Great conversation and humor are my priorities so I’d invite Benjamin Franklin, Renoir, Brian Williams, Bill Clinton, Eratosthenes, Carl Sagan, Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, and Elton John.

Tell us about what you are reading.

That would be “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett, and our Newcomer’s Book Club selection, “Cutting for Stone,” by Abraham Verghese.

What is your most-prized possession?

Photographs of my family are a treasure.

What do you do for fun?

I like to walk, travel … hang out with friends and family.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

I have two — one is sentimental, and one is economic. My two daughters are beautiful, intelligent and responsible. There is nothing I could contribute to society better than this. The other thing I am very proud of is being smart enough to buy a home in La Jolla when I moved here.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

I enjoy life and look at the positive.