She's been a Channel 10 anchorwoman for 24 years and has been keeping us healthy for almost that long with her "Staying Healthy" health reports.
And one of the ways Carol LeBeau found to stay healthy was to drop her own anchor in Coronado.
While LeBeau and husband Tom Hamilton have called the community home now for four and a half years, the truth is they've spent lots of time here over the past two decades.
Hamilton is a retired Navy jet pilot who is now business manager of San Diego's United Methodist Church.
"We've been married twenty years and four months," Hamilton says with a wide grin. "Oh wait, darling, April caught up with me, make that 20 years and five months."
"You sweetie you," LeBeau beams back. She is wearing Tom's fighter wings on her necklace today and it's obvious that this couple is devoted to one another.
LeBeau grew up in Davenport, Iowa where she attended parochial schools and then double-majored in journalism and radio and television broadcasting at the University of Northern Iowa. "I minored in Spanish of all things," LeBeau says, shaking her head in near disbelief. "Why did I do that? I had absolutely no idea I'd be coming to San Diego. But when I did I actually pronounced La Jolla with an 'h' and not a 'j'."
LeBeau, now 51, graduated in 1976 and headed back to her home town of Davenport for an entry-level job at WOC AM/FM TV. "The station only had one other woman on the air at the time, which was the norm back then, and they felt the need to hire a second. Today, about 55 percent of on-air broadcasters are women."
LeBeau says that WOC offered the perfect spot to break into the business because it was a combination radio and TV station. "My first job was to read news on KIIK radio station. LeBeau breaks into her on-air schtick as if it were yesterday: 'You're listening to K - double-I - K, KICK!' "
"I gained great experience writing and rewriting and rewriting and rewriting at KIIK. Then I did light features.
"I had no plans to go into television," LeBeau says. "Gosh no! I was a jock. I was a swimmer, not the TV type. I had to borrow a blouse the time they wanted me to go on air."
Tom chimes in: "That's my girl! T-shirt and jeans!"
But Carol did make the jump into television with ease and after two years in Davenport, "I got my 'Big Break' and moved to Peoria, Illinois. And you know what they used to say in vaudeville, 'if you can play in Peoria, you can play anywhere.' "
In Peoria, LeBeau anchored the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. Three years later, out of the blue, she received a phone call from San Diego's KGTV/ Channel 10 news director Ron Mires, who asked her to come out for an all-expenses paid trip and interview for a weekend anchor position.
It turned out that LeBeau's news producer at WOC had compiled a demo tape of his stories and shopped it around the West Coast; it landed on Mires' desk.
Now retired and also a Coronado resident, Mires said that he regularly reviewed hundreds of news tapes and was always on the lookout for on-air talent.
"You want someone who looks good on air, comes across as believable and has 'life' in their presentation," he said.
"You can see the ones that stand out almost immediately. Some people just have that secret 'it' on camera that is almost impossible to describe," he says. "Carol had the 'it.'
"She came out, looked around and ultimately we offered her the job. But she seemed a little nervous, so we said, 'All right, we'll hire your producer, too.' "
LeBeau credits her father with giving her the go-ahead-and-do-it; you-can-always-come-back-here nudge.
Mires often sees LeBeau down in the Cays and they are members of the same church. "I was out riding my bike yesterday and ran into her. She was all dolled up on her way to work," he said. "Yeah, she was a good hire, that's for sure."
LeBeau started as a weekend anchor and a mid-week "Sky Ten" reporter. "We were the first and only station back then to have a news helicopter," she says proudly.
A year after she arrived at the station, Mires offered another "first" to LeBeau: nightly segments on health issues and medical breakthroughs.
"He knew I was a runner and a swimmer," LeBeau said. "This was a first for a local market; health reports had been pioneered by Dr. Timothy Johnson and Dr. Dean Edell on national broadcasts and Ron thought they'd play well here in sunny San Diego."
"It's been an exceptional opportunity," LeBeau says, "and a welcome counterpart to the harder local news. I've put on scrubs and been right there when a surgeon opens up a body. And it's certainly taught me the importance of preventive care.
"We all make excuses about why we don't have time to exercise when really, we don't make the time," she says. "And it's always so much easier to reach for the Twinkies or the M&Ms with coffee. I used to do that. But now, eating healthier makes me feel better. And ultimately, when I make the time to exercise, I find I get that time back because I'm more energized for the rest of the day and accomplish more."
Shortly after arriving in San Diego, Carol met Tom. The couple married and later settled in Blossom Valley, a rural area east of El Cajon. "We thought we really wanted all that open space," LeBeau says, "and maybe raise a family out there. Well, it turned out we weren't blessed with children, but we've had so many other blessings.
"And we found we were spending more and more time in Coronado. Tom plays golf here. I swim at both the municipal pool and at the Amphib base pool; it's a great pool also used for SEAL training. And we're always at Stretch's Cafe."
"Lentil burgers!" Tom exclaims.
"And so we finally said, 'This is crazy! We should move here and so we downsized," says Carol.
"A lot!" adds Tom.
Carol and Tom are happily ensconced at their Cays bayside home overlooking the quiet South Bay water. They share their home with two cats, Gizmo, the friendliest cat you'll ever meet, and Little Girl, a shy adoptee found by way of Coronado veterinarian Jo Beatty.
"Jo is wonderful," LeBeau testifies. "This past weekend Gizmo wasn't eating and even upchucked some of her food. Jo insisted on stopping by the house. Imagine a vet who makes house calls!"
While LeBeau is definitely one of San Diego's most recognizable celebrities, she feels at ease and at home in Coronado.
"Each time I head back across the bridge toward this island, I can feel my blood pressure dropping," she says. "It's just the most peaceful place. And the air is great - it's always moving.
"And I love the sounds of Navy jets and helicopters."
What's it like to be a celebrity and have folks recognize you all over the county? "The upside is that you have instant friends wherever you go," LeBeau notes. "The downside is I worry about the times I'm out in public when I don't have much makeup on, and you just can't be fluffed all the time. But, for some reason, I feel I can let my guard down a bit in Coronado.
"I know this is an affluent community, but for some reason I don't feel the pressure to be perfect. You can be yourself here."
For the third straight year, LeBeau is serving as Mistress of Ceremonies for the Coronado Hospital Foundation's annual gala, being held this year on May 21 at the Hotel del Coronado. The gala is the largest fundraiser of the year for Sharp Coronado Hospital, and LeBeau adamantly endorses the community's financial support of its local hospital.
"I don't think I'm overstating it to say that the presence of our local hospital is literally a matter of life and death," she contends. "It gives us access to excellent health care at all times, particularly critical emergency services, right here on the island. If you have a bike accident, you need to get to the ER sooner rather than later. If you have a heart attack or a stroke, you need to get TPA into you as soon as possible. Time is always of the essence. Where else would we go? Chula Vista?
"As residents here, we need to mull that over. And we must recognize that much of our population base here is older."
LeBeau is also on board to work on fundraising for a pool at the high school. "Swimming changed my life," she testifies. "I was grossly overweight at age nine; they called me 'Carol the Barrel.' It was mortifying. I thank God for the lady at our local YMCA who encouraged me to become a swimmer. She helped change my life.
"Sports of any kind is empowering for girls and boys and it gives you the confidence to try other things and truly believe you can excel."
LeBeau continues her swimming regimen, including competitive swimming. If it's a Saturday, you'll find her swimming in the ocean, heading out beyond the break from the lifeguard tower at Center Beach and down to the most southerly of the Coronado Shores condos. Or she might be at La Jolla Cove, swimming over to the La Jolla Shores beach area and back. She's competed in the 4th of July Rough Water Swim for most every year over the past 22 years, as well as the La Jolla Rough Water Swim.
"Sports is a metaphor for life," she says. "You learn about teamwork. But you also learn that life isn't always fair."
LeBeau has had some hurdles in her own life. Both she and her mother suffered from extreme anxiety and chronic depression. And while LeBeau was able to easily correct her system's chemical imbalance, she laments that such medications and awareness weren't available during her mother's era; her mother committed suicide when Carol was just 26. Today LeBeau often speaks to groups on the topic of easing the stigma of mental illness.
LeBeau also speaks about her faith. "I am a Christian," she states. Two years ago she spoke about her spirituality at a "Coronado Coffee" gathering. "I think what Gail Pedrotty and these gals have done - bringing together women in this community in a non-denominational venue to share their faith - is fabulous."
CAROL'S CORONADO FAVORITES
• Shop - Treasures from the Heart (I can always find the perfect little gift there).
• Casual dining - Stretch's (Try the minestrone soup or the Spinach Fandango.)
• Out-on-the-town restaurant - Primavera Ristorante
• Brunch - Crown Bistro
• Place to walk - North Beach to Dog Beach
• Place to jog - The Strand
• Activity - Attending Lamb's Players Theatre
• Event - Rotary Club's Low Tide Ride & Stride