George Thomas "Tom" Novinger 1956-2017

Celebration of Life


George "Tom" Novinger passed away with his wife Gladys at Rainbow Falls in Hilo, Hawaii. After growing up in La Crescenta, this fifth-generation Californian became Student-body President at Crescenta Valley High School. He studied Music at Occidental College in Los Angeles earning BA and MA degrees. He became a Math teacher and coached Swimming (just like his father) at Hoover High School in Glendale. He lived in Japan for nine years, and he and his former wife Michiko backpacked all over Asia for a year.

His true career began with the US State Department in 1989, serving as a Foreign Service Officer for 24 years. He and his family were posted to Hong Kong, Japan, Paraguay, Brunei, South Korea, and Syria where he served as Charge d' Affaires in the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. He spread his positive influence and mentorship to hundreds of people from many nations. He continuously strived to make things better than he found them, and always put his heart and soul into the development and care of those he worked with. His talents lay in organizational management and administration. In 2008 he earned a Masters degree in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University in Washington, DC.

His piano teacher noted his exceptional musical ability at his very first lesson when he was seven. His passion in life was Choral Music. He initiated and directed international choirs in each city where he lived including a stunning choir in Damascus, Syria. Highlights of his conducting career included performances for Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Wales in Tokyo in 1986 and for First Lady Hillary Clinton in Paraguay in 1995.

In 1990, George became a father to his daughter Saya with excitement and great love! In her words, "He was a very present, involved and loving father." He spoke several languages fluently as does Saya. Both of them developed their singing voices in their fine high school and Occidental College choral groups. Their music has given pleasure to many throughout their lives. George and Saya also swam competitively in high school and college and later won an open ocean relay race in Okinawa. George guided Saya in her understanding of the world through unique international experiences over two decades, giving her a love of music and art, and beautiful memories. She says, "He was an eye-opening influence," and became a global citizen because of him.

The last few years of his life in Spring Valley, CA, he and his new wife Gladys and stepson Joseph developed Vineyard Hacienda, a beautiful wedding venue and bed and breakfast where they also tended their grapevines and crafted their own wine. He became a frequent speaker on Middle East and Far East issues at colleges, universities and World Affairs Councils. He was President of Balboa Park New International Cottages, Inc., chaired the Balboa Park New International Cottages Construction Group and was on Executive Board of the House of Public Relations at Balboa Park. He served on the Governing Board of Steele Canyon High School and was a member of the Jamul-Dulzura Community Planning Group. He and Gladys were Co-Chairs of the Advisory Board of the San Diego Diplomacy Council, served on the San Diego International Affairs Board, and led the non-profit Remedios Naturales in Peru that researched medicinal uses of jungle plants. George was a dedicated Founding Board Member of Make Music Los Angeles.

George "Tom" passed away with his wife Gladys and leaves his daughter Saya Joy Novinger, his step-son Joseph Harmes III, his parents George W. and Anne Marie Novinger, his sisters Mary Novinger Noble and Barbara Novinger, his nieces and their children, aunts, uncles, cousins and other beloved family members and friends. Donations honoring his and Gladys' memory may be sent to


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