If you heard that Bob and Rita DeLue have a ping-pong table in their San Mateo office, you might picture a pair of hipster entrepreneurs. And while Bob did invent the industry for long-term care health insurance, he’ll turn 95 this year and wife Rita is 12 years his junior. Not exactly hipsters, but entrepreneurs indeed.
It brings us so much happiness to give, and when you are happy, you are healthy.
Bob built his own company, Associated California State Insurance Agency, Inc., selling health insurance products to businesses and associations. Back in the 1970s, as he was growing the company, he created the first-of-their-kind long-term care products, which pay benefits when a policy holder goes into a nursing home or care facility. Bob ultimately sold the company in 1997, and he and Rita now focus on a retirement that includes a lot of ping-pong and other games, travel, managing real estate properties, and supporting community programs, including the Mills-Peninsula Hospital Foundation.
A Ping-Pong Champion
That ping-pong table sits in the office from which Bob manages their commercial and residential properties. He’s a ping-pong champion — he’s won the table tennis tournament on most if not all of the roughly 40 cruises he and Rita have taken — so having the table nearby helps him to keep his skills up. His passion for the sport dates back decades; he won a tournament while stationed in Kobe, Japan, when he was serving in the Army during World War II, and he never lost his swagger.
“I still play and plan on putting a table in a vacation house we recently purchased in Palm Springs,” Bob says with a chuckle. Rita explains that Bob loves games of all kinds. They recently hosted a group of friends at a joyous celebration at Sixteen Mile House, a restaurant in Millbrae, where Bob created a number of games for his guests to enjoy. One was a take-off of Skee-Ball using — you guessed it — ping-pong balls.
“It felt great to be out with good friends after being cooped up for so long during this pandemic,” says Rita. “Our friends are mostly in their 80s; we were all a bit lonely, and it meant the world to us to be hosting them.”
An Exceptionally Good Life
Bob says his “fantastic” wife and family have given him an “exceptionally good life.” He recalls he spotted his future bride at a dance in his hometown of San Francisco, shortly after she arrived from Montreal, Canada.
“She came here looking for gold, but I found a diamond,” he croons. “On our first date, in 1959, I took her to a 49ers game at Kezar Stadium, and we married in 1960.”
Now married for more than 60 years, Bob and Rita have lived on the Peninsula for most of their life together. They raised their three children, Randy, Rick and Renee, here, and have forged deep connections with the community.
Two Generous Spirits
Bob and Rita’s generosity of spirit and bubbling joy of life is infectious. Their banter is animated, filling in each other’s thoughts whether they are talking about playing games with friends or helping others.
The DeLues are passionate about giving back to the community — especially when children are involved. For several years they have thrown extravagant Christmas celebrations for hundreds of children at the local Boys & Girls Club. And at one point, Bob also stepped in to rescue the group’s expansion to Daly City, which almost fell off the rails when state funding was pulled. Their generosity made the DeLue Boys & Girls Club in Daly City a reality.
Not surprisingly, ping-pong also played a prominent role in their relationship with the Boys & Girls Club. Bob regularly played ping-pong at the San Mateo club for several years, when he was first learning about and getting involved with the organization. In addition to supporting the Boys & Girls Club and Mills- Peninsula, Bob and Rita are members of the exclusive “police chief ’s cabinet” of the San Mateo Police Activities League, which provides recreational, social and educational activities for children. In 2003, they were named San Mateo County Citizens of the Year in honor of their philanthropic efforts.
“It brings us so much happiness to give, and when you are happy, you are healthy,” Rita says.
A low-stress and happy life might be the secret to a long life for both Bob and Rita. So far, neither has experienced any serious health conditions; they don’t even take any regular medications. They feel fortunate to be under the care of Sashi Amara, M.D., a Mills-Peninsula internist, and they recognize how much Mills-Peninsula does to keep others in the community healthy.
While the DeLues have been fortunate to have outstanding health, they also know family and friends who have received high-quality care at Mills-Peninsula. They have been active donors to Mills-Peninsula Hospital Foundation for nearly a decade, supporting many technological advancements benefitting the Women’s Center and the Mobile Stroke Unit, and most recently supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.
“The hospital has great doctors; they are so good to the community,” says Rita. “We’ve never been admitted for care, but we got a private tour of the new building to see the fancy earthquake proofing.”
More recently, Rita happened to meet Mills-Peninsula CEO Janet Wagner at a market. “I used to go to the market every morning to read the paper and have a cappuccino, and I noticed Janet’s beautiful jewelry and introduced myself,” Rita recalls. “She is so friendly and the best CEO the hospital has had.”
“One of the best parts of my job is not only taking care of the people in our community, but getting to know them personally,” says Wagner. “In addition to my morning coffee stop, I see Bob and Rita often at events we both support or sponsor in the community, and they are such a pleasure to be around. Their gifts have helped us stay flexible in our response to COVID-19 and contributed to so many other technologies and services at the hospital.”
The DeLues say they have been blessed in so many ways. Bob says, “I was very fortunate to have had a great career and we are committed to continue giving back.”