Letter to the Editor

Retired dentist has fond memories

Friday, November 13, 2009

To the Editor:

A few days ago it occurred to me that I have been a citizen of Greencastle for one-half century.

Yes, 50 years ago (1959) in the first week of October, I opened a dental practice on Hanna Street. With lots of help from family members, I had converted a house at 508 E. Hanna into a two-chair dental office with living quarters upstairs. Marie Borer was my next-door neighbor, and she was my first dental assistance in Greencastle.

In early June 1957, I graduated from Indiana University Dental School with honors. Prior to graduation I had applied to the U.S. Public Health Service, a division of Indian Affairs, for a two-year stint to retire my military obligation. One afternoon a phone call was received and I was offered a commission in the Indian Service on the Yakima Reservation in Central Washington state, which I accepted. While walking back to my patient from that phone call, Dr. Drexel Boyd, chairman of operative dentistry at the dental school, called me into his office and offered me a fellowship grant to continue my education and to be an instructor in the operative department. He was very disappointed when he learned I had just accepted the Indian Service appointment minutes before.

At that time I had no idea Dr. Boyd had roots in Greencastle. He identical twin brother was Rex Boyd, a local attorney of outstanding reputation. Rex was getting his dental work done by his brother in Indianapolis and Dr. Boyd finally told him, "I don't know why you come to me when you have an excellent dentist in Dr. Stamper right there in Greencastle." From then on, Rex Boyd was one of my patients.

My two years on the Yakima was 99 percent children's dentistry with lots of dental diseases to treat. It was a major learning experience and one that was full of challenges and rewards. It prepared me well for the future here in Greencastle.

The most shocking realization when I arrived in Greencastle was that the Indian children had better dental health than many of the Greencastle children! With fluoride treatments and the institution of good children's dental treatment we were able to reverse that trend.

Over the next 31 years my wonderful staff of dental assistants and I seemed to have reversed that trend.

I've been retired 20 years now and I still miss so many of my wonderful patients!

Dr. J.L. Stamper