Dr. George Tanbara: Living a life of purpose
By Linda Chen, Mary Bridge Children's Hospital President and Market Leader
On Saturday, July 1, George Tanbara, MD, 95, left this earth to join his beloved wife of 65 years, Kimi, who passed in March. Dr. Tanbara lived a rich and purposeful life, committing himself to the well-being of our community. Under-served populations held a special place in his heart, especially children. In 1969, he founded Community Health Care, which now has five locations and cared for more than 44,000 at-risk patients in 2016.
Children's hospitals across the country exist today because of a handful of passionate pediatricians who devoted themselves to bringing care and service to children that is specific to their needs. As one of our hospital’s founders, Dr. Tanbara was this icon for Mary Bridge. He supported the start-up of our hospitalists, Emergency Department and neonatal and pediatric intensive care units. In 1980, he co-founded Pediatrics Northwest with mentee and friend Larry Larson, DO. Today, Pediatrics Northwest is the largest multispecialty pediatric group in our region, contributing many of our Mary Bridge specialists.
“We all know how to take care of patients, we were trained to do so, but George taught us how to take care of a community,” says Larson. “George was the always the first physician on campus, first in the doctors’ lounge to connect with physicians before the day started, and he always attended fundraising events for children’s programs in Tacoma. George always reminded us to make decisions that were good for children and families first.”
Today, Mary Bridge has grown to about 900 employees and more than 30 pediatric sub-specialists. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Tanbara. Mary Bridge will honor his immense legacy at a Celebration of Life gathering in the Rose Garden on July 19 at 12:30pm, as we release 95 live butterflies in honor of Dr. George Tanbara’s 95 years of life.