Habilitat co-founder
dies of cancer at 61

See also: Obituaries

Star-Bulletin staff

Vickie Marino, who with husband Vinny moved from New York and helped found and run the Habilitat substance abuse treatment center in Kaneohe, died yesterday at home after a bout with cancer.

Marino, 61, had been executive director of the organization since Vinny Marino became ill with cancer and died in 2000.

"She has always been beside Mr. Marino," said Joe Duavit, a family spokesman.

Duavit, a former patient who now works at Habilitat, says the couple treated the patients as family, and that accounts for their success.

"She knew each and every one of us as we knew her," he said. "She was like our mom. That was just the way she ran the program."

Habilitat began in a two-bedroom Kailua house in 1970, and the program moved to the former Biegelow estate on Kaneohe Bay in 1972. At its peak there was a second Habilitat on the Kaneohe State Hospital grounds. Currently the program, which combines vocational training and rehabilitative therapy, has between 92 and 98 patients, Duavit said.

Habilitat is also involved in construction and landscaping. Twenty-nine years ago, Vickie Marino spearheaded the Christmas tree distribution operation, which has grown into one of the largest in the state.

Danny Katada, Habilitat's area director, who has been with the organization since 1976, has taken over day-to-day operations, Duavit said.

Marino is survived by daughters Victoria and Lila; a grandchild; and siblings Frank, Annette, Louis, Rita and Joseph.

Services are pending.

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