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She was known nationwide as “Happy Holmes.”

posted Jun 2, 2017, 12:55 PM by Joyce Evans   [ updated Jun 3, 2017, 10:41 AM by Richard D'Ascoli ]
You may know PSAR REALTOR® member Isabel Hall as a member of PSAR’s South County Government Affairs (GA) Committee. The GA Committee stays abreast of public policy issues affecting the real estate industry. Its members are involved in advocacy, policy discussion, and candidate endorsement recommendations.
Isabel also is well known for her 15-year career as General Manager at McMillin Realty, a company that dominated the resale market in South San Diego County neighborhoods for decades. At its peak, McMillin Realty had about 450 agents throughout the county and generating more than $1 billion in sales volume annually. McMillin Realty was a member of The Corky McMillin Companies, a fully-integrated real estate sales, investment, land development and home-building company. Isabel stepped away from McMillin Realty in 2016, following its sale by Scott McMillin (Corky’s son) and rebranding to Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate McMillin Realty (today, the company has merged with Coldwell Banker West).
But did you know that Isabel is an open-water ocean swimmer? “I love warm days and swimming from the La Jolla Cove to the Scripps Pier and back,” said Isabel. “My husband Bill kayaks alongside me on long swims. At one time, I was up to 10 miles in distance, which takes about seven hours. If anyone wants to try it, let me know and I’ll introduce you to that amazing world here in our beautiful San Diego.”
Isabel also is an oil painter specializing in portraits. “My mother worked as a Spanish teacher at high schools and colleges, but she loved to paint in her spare time and she taught me,” said Isabel. “I’ve learned a lot about life from painting portraits of family and friends. You learn that everything is more complicated than it appears to be. There are crazy, hidden colors in any object if you look carefully. You develop an appreciation for subtle details to give you a deeper understanding and appreciation. That’s true for any subject in life.”
Isabel’s favorite day is April Fools Day. “I’m known for playing jokes on April 1st,” she said. Among her jokes: Fine Notices for Overwatering; Downtown Parking Tickets from Mr. Drip Drop; Moving an agent’s office into the bathroom. “I’ve made April Fools a day to remember,” she said. “Life is too serious without lots of laughter.”
Isabel Hurley was born in Atlanta as the oldest child with four younger brothers. She was raised in Williamsburg, Vir., where her father worked as a chemist and physicist for textile companies. She attended the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Vir. There, while serving as yearbook editor, Isabel learned how much she loved business and leadership, “although I graduated with a degree in psychology,” she said. While Isabel was in college, Bill was attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. They met on a sailing double date and were married in 1974.
“In 1974, that year, the Navy brought us to San Diego and we settled in Chula Vista,” said Isabel. “I had planned to be a school teacher like my mother, but did not want to start as a `sub,’ so I decided to try this real estate thing. I discovered I loved real estate because I could use my leadership and teaching skills and I loved business. I never looked back.”
Isabel started her real estate career with Century 21 Floyd and Boltz in 1974. After a few years, she was named Relocation Director. “They gave me a fake name, ‘Happy Holmes,’ which was known across the country and could be used with anybody who would have my position in the future,” said Isabel.
In 1978, Isabel and her partners started their own company called Aloha Realty, located on Bonita Road. “I learned a lot about how to run a business from that experience,” she said. “We had 30 agents under 30, it was a blast!”
In 1987, Isabel started with McMillin Realty at their Bonita Road office. “Those were certainly happy days,” she recalled. She now serves as Scott McMillin’s broker of record at his Liberty Station office.
Isabel and Bill have two grown daughters: Stella, a speech pathologist, who lives on Camp Pendleton and is married to a Marine Corps officer, with their three boys; Kathy, a special-ed preschool teacher, who lives in Eastlake with her two children.
Isabel has been a PSAR member since 1974. “In my mind, our Association’s greatest asset is the path it provides for people who want to take on leadership roles in our industry. Participating at this local level allows one to learn many different viewpoints, negotiate and compromise to eventually speak with one united voice, and to be mentored by capable, terrific people. Simply put, PSAR is building our leaders of tomorrow.”