Wrangell Sentinel -


Hamblin called to serve in Tonga mission


Greg Knight

Wrangell Medical Center Chief Financial Officer Garth Hamblin will be leaving his position at the hospital to pursue a full-time mission with his church.

For more than two decades Wrangell Medical Center Chief Financial Officer Garth Hamblin has served the healthcare community in Alaska and the Lower 48. Now, he’ll get to serve a higher power – in paradise.

Hamblin, who is a past Stake President in the Juneau Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been called, along with his wife Sandy, to serve the church’s ministry in the Kingdom of Tonga beginning next month.

As CFO, Hamblin took the place of longtime department head Olinda White, who retired last year. In his time at WMC Hamblin helped in restructuring and shepherding the financial stability of the hospital.

But serving the people of the tiny island nation in the South Pacific is next on the agenda for the couple.

“We did not make the decision lightly,” Hamblin said. “Wrangell has been very good to us. Sandy and I have been very happy here and enjoyed getting to know the community, and up to a short time ago had every intention of staying for some time.”

Hamblin noted that this chance to work with the peoples of Tonga, an island-nation in the South Pacific, is a once in a lifetime opportunity, “We just hated to turn it down and spend the rest of our lives wondering what we missed.”

The Hamblins learned of the mission from a friend who recently began his service in Tonga and was recounting his experiences with the peoples there, nearly a third of who are Mormon. Hamblins will likely assist with office work, in addition to being able to travel among the islands, where their skills with ledgers and typing will be well exercised.

According to Kris Reed, the hospital’s development assistant, staff at WMC reacted with mixed feelings to the announcement, with many expressing sorrow at the Hamblin’s departure and curiosity about their destination.

“We would be happy to send photos back,” noted Hamblin, “and I’ve already got my Tupenu, the traditional Tongan dress, from a trip we took down in 2010, so I’m pretty much set.”

Hospital CEO Marla Sanger, echoed the feelings of the staff in a statement released after Hamblin made his decision public.

“You have provided excellent leadership and partnership to our staff and leadership team,” Sanger wrote. “Thank you for your hard work, wisdom and professionalism. I wish you and Sandy all the best during the next chapter of your lives and always.”

Before coming to Wrangell, Hamblin worked at Bartlett Regional Hospital and served as Stake President for the Juneau Stake, a religious lay position which is equal to, in terms of responsibility, that of an archbishop in the Catholic Church.


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