Len Tumbarello, previously the deputy commander of U.S. Coast Guard’s Sector Columbia River, retired June 1 after 28 years with the Coast Guard.

His action came after being offered the command of Sector Ohio Valley in Tennessee and turning it down for family reasons.

Tumbarello recently cemented a new spot in town, taking over leadership the seamanship program at Tongue Point Job Corps Center in June.

“It was pretty clear to me that I had to make a decision for my family rather than for my career,” said Tumbarello, who spent 11 of his enlisted years in Astoria, where his family has made a permanent home.

His wife, Holly Tumbarello, teaches medical assisting at Clatsop Community College. His daughters Angela, 20, and Chelsea, 18, both graduated from Astoria High School and attend Oregon State University and Pacific University, respectively. His son Tony, 9, still attends Astoria School District.

While he was deputy commander in Astoria, Tumbarello had brought the news of his job offer in Ohio Valley home to the family, which he said wasn’t as excited as he was about the potential cross-country move. After talking it through with them, he made the decision to stay in Astoria and find civilian employment.

Tumbarello was first assigned to Astoria in 1994, when he served as the operations officer on board the Cutter Steadfast until 1997, by which point his family had fallen in love with the area and made Astoria their permanent home.

Tumbarello moved on to surface operations officer of Group North Bend until 2000, his family moving south. They kept close ties to Astoria, though, and Tumbarello returned as Group Astoria's surface operations officer in Warrenton from 2000 until 2002.

From 2002 to 2006, Tumbarello served as the assistant chief of the Atlantic Area/District Five Office of Incident Management in Portsmouth, Va., before returning to the Pacific Northwest as Sector Seattle response chief and later deputy commander between 2006 and 2008.

But during that time in Seattle, his family opted to live in Astoria so Angela and Chelsea could attend Astoria High School all four years. Tumbarello commuted to Astoria every weekend to be with them.

When Capt. Fredrick G. Myer, the officer slated to become deputy commander of the newly formed Sector Columbia River was relieved from duty in the summer of 2010 for misconduct, Tumbarello took over that position temporarily until Capt. Bruce Jones was assigned.

He ended his 28-year career as second in command in Sector Columbia River, adding that after that long, he’d lost some of the passion for life in the Coast Guard.

After his retirement, Tumbarello started looking for work locally. He said he placed second for four local leadership positions, including the directorships of Astoria Parks and Recreation and the Seaside Chamber of Commerce, before the position as head of Tongue Point’s seamanship program opened up.

“I couldn’t have scripted it any better myself,” said Tumbarello, adding that like his time in the Coast Guard, he’s helping guide young men and women. He took over five weeks ago from Jim Van Wormer, who came from Foss Maritime, served 13 months with Tongue Point, and went back to Foss.

Before Van Wormer, was Capt. Patrick Albers, who had been with Tongue Point for 26 years.

Tumbarello said he’s been learning the administrative side of the program. Although experienced with the Coast Guard, Tumbarello added that he hasn’t been underway in his positions in 13 years

He must gain recent sea time and pass tests before getting the merchant marine license required to captain the Ironwood, so he’s been going out with the assistance of others at Tongue Point on the Ironwood’s weekly excursions. Meanwhile, he’s been going on dredges, the Coast Guard’s Cutter Fir, tugs and any other vessel where he can get experience.

Scripps is one of the only working relationships between Tongue Point and a university, but after talking to Oregon State University, Tumbarello said it they might be interested in using the Ironwood to deploy equipment and perform research, expanding students’ opportunities to work in the field.


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