Longest practicing dentist retires from community
After 45 years, I have hundreds of people that are friends, that I happen to do dentistry on.” – Dr. Tom Petersen
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — After 45 years, the longest practicing dentist in Portage County is ready to ride off into the sunset.
Dr. Petersen, better known to his patients as simply “Tom”, retired on June 27 after over four decades of dentistry, leaving the business in good hands with his daughter, Jennifer Peglow. Petersen, who is a 1973 graduate of Marquette University, took over Family Dental Associates from the dentist who mentored him, and created a foundation of loyal patients through top-notch dentistry and customer care.
“I’m so torn between retirement and all the joy that it brings, and leaving practice.” said Petersen, who has grown close to many of his patients over his tenure.
“After you’ve worked with people for so many years, you share their joy; you share their sorrow — I’ve held people who’ve lost a loved one, and I’ve cried with them.” said Peterson. “It’s wonderful, but sometimes you underestimate what you are to people — after 45 years, I have hundreds of people that are friends, that I happen to do dentistry on.”
When news broke a few weeks ago of his retirement, Petersen was met with tears from his patients – men and women alike. However, his daughter seeks to carry on his legacy as a sole-practioner, and doesn’t plan on changing a thing about the long-running practice.
Peglow has practiced dentistry for 20 years, and was guided under her father the entire time. This experience will undoubtedly serve as an easy transition for long-time patients.
“I’ve had the advantage of having a mentor right out of school, which a lot of new dentists don’t have,” said Peglow. “…our ability to work together has been terrific.”
To celebrate the retirement, patients were offered refreshments and treats, as well as gifts — but gifts meant for Petersen, who was presented with many from his friends on this day to say goodbye.
“There have been many tears as we have progressively informed patients of this day.” said Peglow.
As one patient put it as she left what would be her final appointment ever with Petersen, he is “simply the best.”
Petersen will be far from still after retirement, however. He plans on making time on his boat for fishing soon, as well as a September trip to Alaska. More importantly, he would like to become involved in mission work, and is looking into continuing his legacy at Doctors Without Borders. Petersen simply wants to carry on his work in volunteerism in the community anyway he can.
As for Petersen’s parting words for his patients?
“Thank you. I love you all.
It’s been a great career, and it’s because of them that it has been, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it — I wish I could take them home with me.”
Family Dental Associates is located at 1501 Plover St.
Tom, We all live for that day to retire. Enjoy!! Tom & Kathy Rucinski
Although we now live far away from Point, my teeth still miss you. And I am sure you will be missed by all your patients. Enjoy your new journeys.
Rich (and Joanne) Ilkka