Philanthropists Judy and Richard Voltmer
If living life to the fullest is an art form, then Judy and Richard Voltmer are maestros. After 28 years of marriage they are as devoted, attentive and affectionate with each other as newlyweds. Time in their company is primarily spent laughing - they find the humor in everything and get a kick out of making life fun for themselves and everyone around them.
Following a successful career, Richard retired six years ago after he and his business partners of 18 years sold their hair-care products company to a large international corporation. Born in Texas, he moved to Long Beach, California as a small child. He stayed in the area and made his mark in health and beauty product sales and merchandising before becoming a partner at Advanced Research Laboratories.
A native of Los Angeles, Judy spent her career in sales, training and consulting in the beauty industry. As a single, working mother, she was immediately smitten with the newly divorced Richard when she called on him as part of her job. “It was love at first sight,” smiles Judy. Their love story began. The couple was married in Seal Beach and started their life together in Huntington Beach. Between them they have five grown children, four of whom are married, and they enjoy six grandchildren.
Although they are blessed with a wonderful life together, they’ve weathered some difficult times as well. Judy and Richard had a scare when, six years ago, Judy went in for an angiogram and ended up having a quintuple bypass.
Vibrant, active and fit, Judy does not look like a candidate for heart disease. A frequent speaker for the American Heart Association, she transformed her personal challenge into an opportunity to help others. “I love to educate women about heart disease,” she says. “It can happen to anyone and I like motivating them to take the right steps to protect themselves.”
Then a year ago Judy was diagnosed with lung cancer and went through surgery and chemotherapy at Hoag Cancer Center. She credits her great care at Hoag and Richard’s steady support with getting her through the ordeal. Fully recovered from her cancer, Judy and Richard are facing the challenge of Richard’s Parkinson’s disease, diagnosed six years ago.
Buoyant by nature, Richard doesn’t let his slight tremor stop him from his many enthusiasms including golf, Pilates, Tai Chi and dancing with Judy. “Judy’s favorite hobbies are shopping, exercising, shopping, traveling and shopping,” laughs Richard.
Admittedly a little apprehensive about the future as anyone would be, Judy and Richard rely on their trademark humor to live in the moment each day. Richard’s dry humor and deadpan delivery is the perfect counterpoint to Judy’s quick-witted and often irreverent one-liners. “We have fun with life no matter what’s going on,” laughs Richard, “We are our own best audience - we crack each other up.”
Long time philanthropists and community volunteer leaders, Richard and Judy find great joy and meaning in using their good fortune to help others. Describing Hoag as their “home away from home” they were inspired to make a $2 million gift to Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute.
Although Parkinson’s disease was what initially steered their attention toward neurosciences, they are interested in positively impacting those struggling with all types of neurological disorders. Their gift went to establish the first endowed chair at Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute currently awarded to William Rodman Shankle, M.S., M.D., FACP, program director, Memory and Cognitive Disorders and leader of Hoag’s Orange County Vital Aging (OCVA) program. A renowned leader in his field, Dr. Shankle is uniquely well-suited to use the endowment to make a significant impact in our community.
Aware of the importance sleep plays in overall neurological and cardiovascular health, and knowing that many with neurological issues also suffer from sleep disorders, they also directed part of their gift to sleep. In recognition of their significant commitment, the Judy and Richard Voltmer Sleep Center was named in their honor.
The Voltmers’ intention to touch lives goes beyond their initial financial support. They are excited about the opportunity to be directly involved. “We wanted to do something where we could really make a difference right in our own community,” says Richard. “But we didn’t want to make a donation and walk away from it. We want to be hands on, to see what’s taking place and figure out other ways to help. It gives Judy and me a wonderful feeling to be able to participate.”
Richard is also interested in lending his time and talent to Parkinson’s support groups that are positive and hopeful. “So many neurological disorders are not very curable or even very controllable,” he says. “I want to get involved in helping support people with Parkinson’s because it’s much more than physical, it’s emotional, mental and it impacts the whole family.”
Compassion and the desire to serve are deeply woven in to the fabric of this couple’s life together. “It’s very fulfilling to do this,” says Judy. “We are excited to be working with Hoag and helping to bring such an important community resource to fruition.”
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