Hometown: Henderson, Ky. (Originally from Peninsula, Ohio)
Married to Lynn since 1994. She is the dental practice office coordinator.
Four children: Drake, Dylan, Lilly and Lucie
Kentucky Wesleyan is a long way from Northern Ohio. Why did you choose Wesleyan?
“My high school guidance counselor, Ruth Arnold, whose son was a Wesleyan graduate, encouraged me to apply to Kentucky Wesleyan. In fact, I didn’t apply anywhere else. I had wanted to be a dentist since I was six years old. I learned that Wesleyan graduates had good track records for acceptance to professional schools, and I was one of the original students to receive a James Graham Brown scholarship. Dr. Bill Davis ’80 and Dr. Mark Perko ’78 also attended Wesleyan through her guidance and became dentists, as well. Ms. Arnold was a great Wesleyan ambassador, and her influence was far reaching.”
What memories of your Wesleyan years stand out to you?
“The College was the perfect fit for me. I came from a small high school, and I thrived in the small college atmosphere. I got involved in many campus activities, and I doubt that I would have done so at a large university. It was easy to assimilate into the Wesleyan family and accept leadership roles. I joined a fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and later served as president. I was also the Judicial Council chairman for the Student Government Association and president of Alpha Chi. I was honored to be named to the Order of Oak and Ivy.
“Many members of the faculty mentored me, and I remain grateful today for their encouragement. I think of Dr. Bob Dalzell, Professor Don Davenport and Drs. W.L. Magnuson, Henry Connor and Bob Flachskam in chemistry. They all prepared me well, and they were very good to me.
“I applied to two dental schools, and when I was interviewed at the University of Kentucky, I was told, ‘You have a really strong science background, and you are well prepared, so you will be accepted to any dental school you apply to. But we want you here.’”
What does Wesleyan mean to you today?
“For many years, I was busy establishing my practice and raising my family, so I wasn’t involved. Dr. Magnuson stayed in touch, and I appreciated that. But I’ve always been a part of the Wesleyan family, and now I’m involved in a very special way. Our two daughters, Lilly and Lucie, are Wesleyan students. I’ve reconnected with my alma mater because of them and have enjoyed meeting staff, too, in recent years. Connections in our lives are everything, and I encourage other alumni to stay connected or reconnect with the Wesleyan family.
“Lilly will be a junior chemistry major (pre-medicine) and her first year lived across the hall from where I lived in Deacon Hall. She is thriving at Wesleyan and was recently named a Magnuson Scholar. I really wanted her to experience a class with Dr. Magnuson and she did – her freshman year and his last year before retirement. That meant a lot to me. I think it did to both of them, too.
“Lucie will be a sophomore. She is a biology major and wants to be a physician assistant. She is doing great, too, and easily got settled in and loves it. Both of them are having incredible experiences in an incredible place, just like I did. What more could a dad want for his college-age children?”
Tell us about your career as a dentist.
“After I earned my Doctor of Dental Medicine at UK in 1983, I opened a private practice in Henderson. My dad worked for Firestone and was transferred to the Henderson plant when I was in college. So I chose to begin my career there, loved the city and stayed. My passion is creating beautiful smiles.
“More about my dad – and this is a great Wesleyan connection – he hired Greg Risch ’93 at Firestone. He was so excited to have an applicant who was a Wesleyan grad and a James Graham Brown Scholar just like his son was. And you know the rest of the story; today Greg is president of the company, which is now Accuride. So Wesleyan connections are everywhere.”
Why do you give to Wesleyan, and why do you encourage others to give?
“Lynn and I give for three reasons, and she is a strong believer in Wesleyan, just as I am, even though she didn’t attend here.
“First, as I high school student, I looked for an avenue to dental school, my dream. My four years here were very happy and some of my best years. I got the preparation I was looking for and needed. Wesleyan was such a great experience; it would be crazy not to give back.
“Second, I got a scholarship to Wesleyan even though I didn’t think I was the caliber of student to receive one. Over the years, I have realized that I have a responsibility and duty to give back. Wesleyan gave much to me; now it is my turn. I look back on all the financial assistance I was given while at Wesleyan and realize it was not a scholarship I was given, but a long-term loan that I would hopefully be able to pay back.
“Third, I have a vivid memory of sitting in the chapel during Honors Convocation in 1978 and making a promise to myself. I received several awards that day and vowed that someday I would give back to Wesleyan to help others have the same positive experience I was having. Two years ago, Lynn and I established the Connor/Flachskam/Magnuson Chemistry Scholarship in appreciation for the support and encouragement I received back then from Drs. Henry Connor, Bob Flachskam and W.L. Magnuson and Professor Nancy Flachskam.
“There are so many alumni who have benefited from their Wesleyan educations. As I reflect back, I remember my Wesleyan years as such a special time and so many others to do. Giving back is the right thing to do, and now is the time.”