I am starting a new chapter in my life. I am now officially retired. My final day of work was this past Monday, April 10.
It was a fun but bitter-sweet day as I said good-bye to my boss, my co-workers, and my last ten patients.
I retired after nearly 44 years of what has been a very rewarding career in dental hygiene, working in the same dental practice all those years. I started working right after I graduated from Indiana University at Fort Wayne in 1973. Dr. James Overman had started a new dental practice in St. Marys, Ohio, the year before and I was his first dental hygienist. I am not sure, but I may have been the first hygienist in Auglaize County. If not, I was probably the second. Thank you for hiring me, Dr. Overman. Dr. Duncan worked with Dr. Overman for a year, around 1974, before moving on. In 1975 Dr. Larry Heitkamp joined the practice. Doctors Overman and Heitkamp worked together for a year or two until Dr. Overman sold the practice to Dr. Heitkamp. Dr. Travis Lutz joined the practice in 1999 and purchased the practice in 2000 and Dr. Heitkamp retired.
The dental practice was first located in the Barton Medical Building in 1973, just west of the hospital. We moved about a block down the street and around the curve to the Wheatland Building in 1986 and we moved to Celina in 2000, where we are today. Dr. Lutz renamed the practice Grand Lake Family Dentistry when he took over.
Dentists have come and gone in the practice but I have stayed the whole time. I have known some of my patients for nearly 44 years and have been the dental hygienist to four generations of some families!
I have worked with great co-workers and have met many lovely people. I have made life-long friendships with co-workers and patients as well. I have many wonderful memories.
The way you clean teeth hasn’t changed all that much but I have seen the biggest changes in technology, with x-rays and record-keeping. We now take digital x-rays and we can see the images immediately on the monitor. No more messing with films and developing solutions. And thanks to the computer we don’t have a scheduling book or patient files anymore. Everything from charting to scheduling is done on the computer. Infection control became a big issue in the 1980s and many changes, including masks and gloves, came about as a result.
On my last day of work my co-workers surprised me with a balloon bouquet held by the cutest plush bear that brushes his teeth and sings. The bear brushes for two whole minutes. (You know you should brush for two minutes.) They also gave me a specially made T-shirt that says “The Legend Has Retired,” and a cake with my dental hygiene graduation photo on it. Husband Joe brought in a bright balloon bouquet as well as cake and ice cream. Several patients brought in cards and a couple gifts. Monday Dr. Lutz is taking us out for a retirement dinner. I worked with such nice people.
Tears were shed, hugs and handshakes given. Saying good-bye is so hard.
Below are some photos of my dental hygiene career.
So begins a new chapter in my life.