Our Laguna: Warm and witty honors for Laguna's 'rescuer'

June 16, 2011|By Barbara Diamond,
  • Ann Quilter is all smiles as she recieves a pair of fancy rain boots from Faye Chapman of the Laguna Relief and Resource Center during the Woman of the Year luncheon at the Woman's Club of Laguna Beach.
Ann Quilter is all smiles as she recieves a pair of fancy… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Ann Hutchinson Quilter has never been one to pat herself on the back, not even at a luncheon in her honor.

Speakers at the Laguna Beach Woman's Club Woman of the Year luncheon heaped praise on Quilter for her accomplishments on behalf of the city.

But when the guest of honor spoke, she talked about the contributions of all of the groups represented in the room and the support given her in a time of personal crisis as she recovered from the devastating 1998 mudslide that destroyed her home and almost took her life.

First came the accolades.

Speakers described Quilter as a quixotic force of nature who represents the best qualities of Laguna's volunteers, no one more complimentary or endearing than Emily Quilter.

"I am Hurricane Ann's daughter, Tropical Storm Emily," she said at the sold-out luncheon.

"Over the past few weeks, Mom has been compared to some forces of nature, a hurricane, a bulldozer with a heart, a one-woman army and, to be honest, I can't really argue with any of those metaphors. Nothing really slows her down."


And she doesn't do "normal."

"But then again, if she did, we probably wouldn't be gathered here to honor her today," her daughter said.

Ann Hutchinson was the daughter and sister of U.S. Marine Corps aviators and then she married one, Charles Quilter II, who served in Kuwait, Bosnia and Iraq.

Raising Emily and her brother CJ, while Daddy was away at war, required nerves and other equipment of steel, for which Ann is known.

She survived the '98 mudslide that swept her out of her Laguna Canyon home and left her naked and alone in the dark, only to pick herself up and seek refuge. Can anyone be surprised to learn she was an aerialist with the Florida State University Flying High Circus while a student, or that at almost 50, she climbed back up on the trapeze while attending a college reunion.

While still in college, she climbed Mt. Fuji and hitchhiked through Europe. She has also escaped drowning at Waimea Bay, Hawaii, come close to flying over the White House during her solo cross country flight for her pilot's license and beaten breast cancer.

Her life experiences have left her compassionate and unable to leave a job undone.

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