Peter Segall / Juneau Empire 
Juneau Pioneer Home resident Phyllis Woodman, left, sits with the home’s administrator Gina Del Rosario, right, on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Del Rosario is retiring and friends and colleagues say she’ll be hard to replace.

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire Juneau Pioneer Home resident Phyllis Woodman, left, sits with the home’s administrator Gina Del Rosario, right, on Thursday, April 29, 2021. Del Rosario is retiring and friends and colleagues say she’ll be hard to replace.

‘Only one Gina’: Pioneer Home administrator announces retirement

Colleagues say she’ll be hard to replace

A calling brought her to the job in the first place, she says, but now the head of the Juneau Pioneer Home feels it’s time to move on.

Gina Del Rosario, Juneau Pioneer Home administrator who’s spent 30 years with the state of Alaska, is retiring, and according to friends and co-workers, it’s going to be hard to replace her.

“There’s only one Gina,” said Marja Miller, assistant administrator at the Juneau home.

Del Rosario has approached her job at the Pioneer Home with religious zeal. A devout Catholic, Del Rosario said her faith helped guide her to the role and drove her dedication to the work.

“It’s really more than a job, it’s more like a vocation, more like a ministry,” she said.

Originally from San Rafael, in Bulacan province in the Philippines, Del Rosario has worked in seven different departments in Alaska state government over 30 years, starting as a clerk in the governor’s office. She also served in the Departments of Public Safety and Revenue, and 16 years with the Department of Larbor and Workforce Development.

In a statement, Deputy Commissioner of Family, Community & Integrated Services at DHSS Clinton Lasley said the department was fortunate to have had Del Rosario as an administrator.

“Gina has touched so many lives through her love for and dedication to the Elders that have made the Juneau Pioneer Home their home,” Lasley said.

Del Rosario had been doing more managerial work, she said, which was attractive to her as a young mother. But her father’s death from cancer in 2011 affected her deeply and made her want to pursue work she found more meaningful.

“Every time I stopped at the stoplight (at Egan Drive and Vanderbilt Hill Road) I thought what an honor to be working at the Juneau Pioneer Home, where so many people need your time and attention. How lucky are the people working there,” she said.

Del Rosario guided the Juneau Pioneer Home through the COVID-19 pandemic, overseeing a facility whose residents were among the most vulnerable to the illness. Under normal circumstances, an array of visitors are allowed in the home, from family members to volunteers and entertainers. But all that had to be stopped during the pandemic, as the Pioneer Homes became closed off to anyone but staff who were being tested weekly for months, she said.

Juneau Pioneer Home Administrator Gina Del Rosario, was in her office on Thursday, April 29, 2021, but her bags were literally packed. Del Rosario is retiring soon and a replacement has not yet been named. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

Juneau Pioneer Home Administrator Gina Del Rosario, was in her office on Thursday, April 29, 2021, but her bags were literally packed. Del Rosario is retiring soon and a replacement has not yet been named. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)

“She has been a friend as well as an admin and has seen us through many things,” said Phyllis Woodman, an eight-year resident of the home. “She has been consistently for us. She’s just that type of person.”

When the pandemic hit, Del Rosario and other staff found ways to keep residents connected with their families. Last April, staff at the Juneau Home were able to buy two new iPads to help residents stay in contact with loved ones who could no longer visit. Last year, one family member played guitar for his mother just outside of the window of the Pioneer Home.

[Through the talking glass: Technology helps connect Pioneer Home residents and loved ones]

The Pioneer Homes were the target of state budget cuts in the years leading up to the pandemic, and Del Rosario has helped residents and their families through those changes. In 2019 the Dunleavy administration made changes to the fee structure of the Pioneer Home, raising rates between 40% and nearly 140%, but lawmakers passed a bill reducing those rates after public pushback.

Who’ll replace Del Rosario is an open question. Miller said she was offered the job, but said she is comfortable in her role as assistant administrator. The position of administrator at the Pioneer Homes is appointed by the governor, Lasley said, and a name, which was not disclosed, has been submitted to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for his consideration.

In her retirement, Del Rosario said she may go back to teaching Sunday School, and feels a calling to “spend more time in the Scriptures.”

Del Rosario said she was eligible to retire last year but with the pandemic ongoing the timing wasn’t right. She said she wanted to spend more time at home while her children were still young.

“I know that is time for me to focus on a smaller family who have been put on second priority in my life,” she said.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 19

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, speaks in favor of House Bill 143 on Friday. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House approves relaxed environmental rules for ‘advanced recycling’

Applies to facilities using high heat or chemicals to turn plastic garbage into raw materials.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon (right) discusses the Juneau School District’s financial crisis with school board Vice President Emil Mackey (right) and City Attorney Robert Palmer during a meeting Thursday night at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Meetings to comment on Assembly’s proposed $9.6M of help to school district scheduled next two Mondays

Plan includes $4.1 million no-interest loan, picking up “shared costs” this year and next.

A crowd overflows the library at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Thursday night as school board members meet to select a consolidation option to help resolve the Juneau School District’s budget crisis. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
School district leaders approve putting grades 9-12 at JDHS, 7-8 and HomeBRIDGE at TMHS

Elementary schools will be K-6; Marie Drake, Floyd Dryden to close this fall if plan gets final OK.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives celebrate the passage of a sweeping education bill on Thursday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
House passes $680 BSA increase, with other education provisions

Bill now returns to Senate, which must pass it unchanged before it can head to the governor’s desk.

House Minority Leader Calvin Schrage, I-Anchorage, speaks during Thursday night’s floor debate on an education bill. (Screenshot from akl.tv livestream)
House approves $680 BSA increase, extra support for charter schools in education bill

Bill passes by 38-2 vote, Senate expected to concur with changes after days of negotiations.

Musicians perform Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, at Devil’s Club Brewing. The event was among the first three allowed under a newly amended state law. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Three Alaska alcohol manufacturers sue state over rule limiting live music and entertainment

Plaintiffs say limit of four events annually at breweries and distilleries violates First Amendment.

A previously unidentified Eastern North Pacific right whale surfaces in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska in September 2023. The discovery of this whale was hailed by scientists studying the critically endangered population. Members of the public are being asked to choose a name for the animal through an online contest that will use bracketed competition. (Photo by Bernardo Alps/NOAA Fisheries, International Whaling Commission and WildSea Inc.)
Agency asks public to name, get to know member of highly endangered Alaska whale population

NOAA wants people online to name Eastern North Pacific right whale spotted in September.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 21, 1994. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Feb. 25

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Most Read