Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble 
Ben Goble sits on the porch of the Goble’s house/clinic on what is now McCollum Drive in Kenai, circa 1959-60.

Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble Ben Goble sits on the porch of the Goble’s house/clinic on what is now McCollum Drive in Kenai, circa 1959-60.

Kenai’s 1st live-in doctor — Part 1

Dr. Goble served the various medical needs of the central Kenai Peninsula

AUTHOR’S NOTE: For much of the first 60 years of the 20th century, the main population centers of the Kenai Peninsula were Seward and Seldovia, the beating hearts of peninsula commerce. More people and industry required more medical care. In fact, by the time the growing communities of Homer, Kenai and Soldotna had gotten their first resident doctors, Seldovia, with its clinic, had had at least seven, and Seward, with its hospital and sanitarium, had had more than 30.

In late July 1958, a reception was held at the Kenai Civic Building to welcome that community’s very first resident physician, Dr. Marian Goble. The doctor’s husband and daughter were on time for the event, but the doctor herself arrived an hour late. She explained to well-wishers that she had just returned from rushing a Nikiski teen-ager to the hospital in Seward for an emergency appendectomy.

For the next two and a half years, Dr. Goble served the various medical needs of the central Kenai Peninsula, tending to the area’s sick and injured, delivering babies, and performing triage in emergencies before sending patients to hospitals elsewhere.

Mike Huhndorf, of Nikiski, recalled one of the doctor’s house-calls: “She came out to our Quonset hut when my sister and I were both sick. It was a winter night, and Dad had to get her at the end of the road by dogsled and bring her into our place two miles and then back out. She also mended my brother Tom’s broken finger when it got slammed in a door at the summer beach cabin.”

In January 1960 when Roger Waldron’s Piper Tri-Pacer clipped the top of an aspen tree before crashing near a home in Soldotna, Dr. Goble tended to Waldron’s broken arm and the minor injuries of his two passengers. Two months later, she treated Al Poore when he contracted infectious hepatitis.

Dr. Goble also sent Peggy Todnem to the Wildwood Army Station for x-rays when she broke her leg and then applied a cast to the limb after the bones were back in place. She sewed up Cindy Sanguinetti’s pointer finger that she sliced open on an unrimmed coffee can, and did the same for Kathy Wood’s big toe when she stepped on a sharp object in the water at Solid Rock Bible Camp.

She even had to mend the scalp of her own husband after his airplane hit a downdraft and smashed into the ground as he was attempting to take off from the Soldotna airstrip.

Dr. Goble arranged medical transport for those who were severely injured. She pronounced dead those who were victims of misfortune. She provided treatment to patients with strep throat, applied stitches to close open wounds, stopped persistent nose bleeds, and did whatever else she could with what she had.

With her career, her family and her religious beliefs at the forefront of her life, she remained constantly on-call and consistently in motion.

Marian Grace Goble—who, at age 94, resides near Denver—was born Aug. 10, 1928, on Staten Island, N.Y., to parents Meier and Katherine Ziegler. Her father, the proprietor of a delicatessen, died when Marian was only eight years old, and her mother remarried to a paperhanger/interior decorator named Arthur Hartley.

By the time of Meier Ziegler’s death, Marian had two older sisters and one younger. With Arthur Hartley, Katherine would have one more child, a son named John.

After high school, Marian Ziegler attended Wheaton College, a private Evangelical Christian liberal arts school near Chicago, and then moved on to medical school at the State University of New York, in Brooklyn. One day in 1952, her then-11-year-old brother came to visit her and became part of a life-changing experience originating at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Marian—who worked her way through college and medical school, spending time as a hospital attendant, a soda fountain clerk and a housekeeper—was on a tight budget. Whenever brother John visited, she said, she looked for inexpensive ways to entertain him.

On this occasion, they began with Chinese food and then, with an eye toward free events, headed to the museum to view an exhibition on mummies.

“We were looking at the mummies and stuff,” she recalled, “and I noticed there was a soldier following us. My mother had taught us (girls), ‘Don’t get picked up by servicemen.’ I tried to get rid of him and couldn’t.

“Finally, on the way out, picking up our stuff that we had checked on the way in, he came up (to us). He was very courteous, and he said, ‘Could you please tell me how to get to the Staten Island Ferry?’ I thought, ‘Oh, my! That’s where we’re going. I will tell him how to get there, and (then) I’ll take an alternate route.’ And my brother pipes up: ‘Hey, that’s where we’re going!’”

After sharing a subway ride to the ferry station, the young soldier asked Marian whether she would allow him to escort them on the ferry. “I thought, ‘Oh, boy, I gotta get rid of this guy!’” But he was persistent and remained with them.

“I found out later on,” she said, “that the reason he was following me was that I was carrying a Bible, which was traditional in those days for Christians. And he thought, ‘This is the kind of woman I want.’ Things took off from there.”

The soldier was Private First-Class Benjamin Leon Goble, of Toms River, N.J. Ben was stationed at Fort Jay on Governor’s Island, N.Y. Soon, Ben was taking his med-student girlfriend to meet his parents, Paul and Grace Goble, in New Jersey. Ben and Marian married in June 1953.

They honeymooned in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Nine months later, while on a two-week break between classes in medical school, Marian Goble gave birth to their first child, a daughter. They named her Grace after a number of family members, and for “the Grace of God,” said Marian.

Dedicated to her studies, Marian was back to school on time for the resumption of classes. She graduated later that spring with her medical degree.

Ben, born in Philadelphia in January 1932, had enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1951 and was discharged in December 1952. At the time of their marriage, while Marian was completing medical school, Ben was enrolled in Shelton College in Brooklyn and majoring in Bible studies.

After Shelton, he attended the Teterboro School of Aeronautics, in New Jersey, working to pay for classes as he trained to become an airplane mechanic and took flying lessons in single-engine aircraft.

As 1957 and the end of Ben’s training neared, said Marian, “I was mostly being a mother and wife, along with a job at Hasbrouck Heights (N.J.) Hospital, filling in here and there.” They began exploring career options. For the young Goble family and its commitment to religious principles, the direction forward had to involve some sort of Christian service.

Thus, the possibility of missionary work arose like the sun on their career horizon.

TO BE CONTINUED….

Detail from Dr. Goble’s prescription pad from her Kenai clinic. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

Detail from Dr. Goble’s prescription pad from her Kenai clinic. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

In her Kenai clinic, this was Dr. Goble’s examination table. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

In her Kenai clinic, this was Dr. Goble’s examination table. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

Ben, Marian and Grace Goble pose next to Ben’s airplane on the beach near Kenai in 1959. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

Ben, Marian and Grace Goble pose next to Ben’s airplane on the beach near Kenai in 1959. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

Marian and Grace Goble on the steps of Marian’s medical clinic on what is now McCollum Drive in Kenai, circa 1959-60. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

Marian and Grace Goble on the steps of Marian’s medical clinic on what is now McCollum Drive in Kenai, circa 1959-60. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

Marian and Grace Goble during a Kenai-area picnic in 1958. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

Marian and Grace Goble during a Kenai-area picnic in 1958. (Photo courtesy of Ben and Marian Goble)

This image from a 1959 postcard shows Kenai during the Gobles’ tenure there. (Original photo by Glenn and Clarice Kipp)

This image from a 1959 postcard shows Kenai during the Gobles’ tenure there. (Original photo by Glenn and Clarice Kipp)

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