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After 16 years as rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Ketchikan, the Rev. Gary Herbst is headed back home to Texas.
In 1986, Herbst moved from hot, dry Jasper, Texas, to cool, wet Southeast Alaska. In his small office in the back of the Ketchikan Seamen Center on Wednesday, Herbst reflected on his time in Alaska's First City.
Herbst said his time in Ketchikan has been busy and productive. Soon after he arrived, he helped develop the Ketchikan homeless shelter, which first was located in modular units next to Ketchikan General Hospital. Maintaining the Seamen's Center also has been an important accomplishment, said Herbst.
He said he will take many special memories to Texas after his final Sunday service at St. John's on July 14. Among the most special are the births of his two children, both here in Ketchikan.
The most important memory Herbst said he'll take with him is of the people he's met. Through his career, he's been present at the special moments of many people's lives, he said, sharing their joys and sorrows.
Alaskans are special people to him. After a traumatic bicycle accident which nearly caused his death, he said, the entire town supported him and his family during his recovery.