PUBLISHED: 3:49 PM on Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Bench dedicated for former SEARHC vice president
SITKA - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital will dedicate a new bench in memory of former Vice President of Operations Art Willman, who died in April 2005.

The dedication ceremony took place Aug. 25, at the front entrance of Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. A small reception will follow in the Litehouse Cafeteria. Art's wife, Mary, and daughter, Jean, will be in attendance. Art's beloved New York Yankees baseball cap, which he always wore when not on the job, has been bronzed and the cap will be part of the bench.

"Art was a visionary leader who spent much of his career working to improve the quality of health care services for the Native people of Southeast Alaska," said SEARHC Vice President of Hospital Services Frank Sutton, who served as Art's chief deputy for 20 years and took over hospital operations on Art's retirement. "He saw many of the possibilities that self-determination offered and worked tirelessly to transition the health care system from a federally dominated one to a tribally managed one. He was respected by health care leaders across Alaska and the nation."

Art was a member of the U.S. Public Health Service's Commissioned Corps who first came to Alaska as a pharmacist in 1961, working in Kotzebue. He left the state five years later to pursue his education, then was brought back to Alaska by the Indian Health Service in 1971 to serve as the Service Unit Director at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital.

In 1986, when SEARHC took over management of Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, Art retired from the U.S. Public Health Service and became Director of Health and Hospital Services for SEARHC. In 1989, he became SEARHC Vice President of Operations, the position he held until his retirement in 1999 to Whidbey Island on Puget Sound.