Allen and Sally Wooddell have a morning walking routine that includes a stop at the Waimea Coffee Company, just about a half-mile from their home. In fact, they’ve been regulars at the shop long enough to remember when it was called Waimea Coffee and Company (emphasis on the “and”).
“We’ve been here from the beginning,” Sally says. “I liked it, because that’s what I thought this place was about: the coffee and the people.”
The usual order for a couple of regulars? A chai latte for Sally (sometimes) and a café mocha for Allen (always).
“The people,” Sally says, when asked why she likes this shop. “I mean, I know that they make the best coffee around, but I don’t drink coffee. So, it’s not that, you know, it’s the people.”
Adds Allen: “We have a lot of people we know here, and the people who work here are really neat. I do drink coffee. I say they have the best café mocha in the world. … It’s a good place to come to in the morning. We come here every morning.”
Married since 1975, Allen (85 years old) and Sally (71) first met in the early 1970s when Sally was hired to work in Allen’s law office in Honolulu (though they began dating later). The couple have six children in all, ranging in age from 60 to 28, with five from previous marriages, and a daughter together, Kuliaikanu’u.
Sally was traveling in San Francisco and Allen happened to be there on business. They went out to dinner and, “I asked her to get married,” Allen recalls, simply yet fondly, “and she said, ‘Yes.’”
Allen was born in Oahu, went to Punahou School in Honolulu, before attending Dartmouth as an undergraduate and Stanford for law school. He was in the Army toward the end of the Korean War, then moved back to Oahu and also worked in Hilo for a time before moving to Waimea with Sally in 1991. Allen was a lawyer for 32 years and now manages a trust. He once belonged to numerous paddle clubs and was an instructor, though he mostly works in the yard these days.
“He’s very much like my father. They will take in a stray and put them on their feet,” Sally says of Allen. “He’s a very generous person.”
Sally was born in St. Louis, though her family moved to Oahu when she was young and she also attended Punahou (though the two didn’t know each other then because of their age difference). She eloped to the mainland with her previous husband and later moved back to Oahu. Retired now, though an active reader, Sally worked at North Hawaii Hospice for 10 years, at a shelter in Honolulu, a probation program, and as a receptionist.
“Sally really loves other people. She really wants to help people in trouble,” Allen says of his wife. “And she’s really good with grandchildren.”
The Wooddell’s have Hawaiian familial connections. Allen recalls that his great, great grandfather moved to the islands in 1824 and his grandmother was Hawaiian. Meanwhile, Sally’s grandfather was initially supposed to journey to Alaska but wound up working on an island plantation.
Life in Waimea, since the early 1990s, has been good, the couple says, though the town is much different now than when they moved here. Most importantly, they have family nearby thanks to multiple structures on their “compound” that enable children, grandchildren and extended family to stay or visit.
“It’s a great place to raise kids,” Sally says. Adding of their morning walks, to and from the Waimea Coffee Company and locales in between: “Which is one of the nice things about a small town. … A lot of people wave at us as we go by.”
“They’re super sweet,” says Eli Simon, a Waimea Coffee Company employee who counts Allen and Sally among his favorite customers. “You’ll see them walking down the road with each other. … Sometimes, I’ll be driving in to work and I’ll see them walking to the coffee shop holding hands.”
If you happen to amble around Waimea early in the morning, give a wave to Allen and Sally on their morning walk to the shop.
“We adore them,” says Alicia Greenwell, a longtime Waimea Coffee Company employee. “They’re one of those customers we know their order. We know what they like. And we know how to make them smile.”
Written By: Timothy Scott | Photos By: Kathrine Kauhane | Infographic By: Alicia Greenwell