Nobuko Rahe, 91 years old as of September, was born in Hawaii, moved to Los Angeles County in 1953, and relocated to the Valley Center area of San Diego County in 1987 when she and her late husband retired.
Gillian Lancaster, just turned 81, emigrated from England to work at the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, moved all over the United States, and came to San Diego permanently in 1976 after reading it was one of America’s “10 most livable cities.”
Different backgrounds? Yes. Similar interests? Absolutely.
In fact, they have become constant companions primarily through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at SDSU.
“We are best friends,” Nobuko says. “We do a lot together.”
On the morning they were interviewed for this story, they had plans together for the rest of the day.
Gillian had just finished attending the Middlesex OLLI book club facilitated by Kathi Diamant. Nobuko took the bus from the Midtown area of San Diego to meet Gillian, who likewise had taken the bus from her home in La Jolla to SDSU. Both enjoy the convenience of taking public transportation to campus.
From there, they met a friend for lunch before attending the classic film The Third Man at the Ken Cinema Landmark Theaters starring Orson Welles. Then it was time for more socializing afterward.
This friendship began when they both happened to attend the same movies and lectures at the San Diego and Point Loma libraries, along with chance meetings at the opera. Then came the times they ran into each other at various lifelong learning classes, ultimately followed by both becoming members of OLLI at SDSU shortly after it was established in 2004.
“Our paths kept crossing,” Gilliam says. “We gradually kept seeing each other at class. Then we started comparing classes and saving seats for each other.”
Added Nobuko: “We have the same interests. Our friendship just kind of happened. It wasn’t planned.”
Nowadays, their plans include OLLI classes together and socializing with classmates. In fact, both say one of their best times with OLLI was a Culture and Cuisine of Morocco Edventure at a restaurant in Hillcrest, facilitated by Susan McBeth with author Kitty Morse.
No matter the OLLI activity, they thoroughly enjoy being participants.
“I really like the Osher staff,” Gillian says. “I like just about all of the presenters, too.”
Although their interests are similar, they have their differences, too. Gillian is more into book clubs offered through OLLI. Kobuko leans toward history classes such as “The 1990s through the Eyes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” yet they try to attend as many of the same courses as possible.
That’s what best friends are for.