Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

A crowning achievement: Former dentist office employees reunite often

Thu., March 20, 2014

Some people retire and leave work friends behind, but that’s not the case with staff and doctors who worked together at the Hillyard Dental Clinic until the early 1990s.

Instead of avoiding each other, they have had regular reunions over the years. The last one came Friday, when more than a dozen former employees got together for lunch at the Atrium at the Red Lion Inn at the Park.

The dynamo behind the reunions is LaDonna Petrettee, whose father, Dr. Angelo Petrettee, was one of the dentists at the original clinic which was at 4817 N. Market St.

“I guess we kept track of people as they left,” Petrettee said. “And we decided to have lunch together because we got tired of just meeting at funerals.”

Petrettee said when the clinic was at its largest it counted five dentists and their staffs; she worked there for 20 years as a dental assistant. A dental clinic still calls that location home, Petrettee said.

Diane Rowse had been a hygienist at the clinic for 18 years when she left in 1992 for another job.

“We were all great friends, it really was a great time working there,” Rowse said.

Katie Taylor worked for 10 years as a receptionist at the clinic until around 1990.

She remembered juggling scheduling for everyone, including cancellations from patients who said they couldn’t drive in because there were too many deer on the roads.

“It was an experience like nothing else,” Taylor said, laughing. “But it was a great place to work.”

Sandy Crosby worked as the assistant to Dr. Robert Hayes from 1986 to 1994.

“The camaraderie was really great,” Crosby said. “We really worked as a team. We helped each other out.”

Dr. Herbert Mueller was at the reunion, too.

He’s been retired for more than 15 years and reminisced with his former staff about how they worked without gloves back then, because AIDS hadn’t been discovered yet.

“I’m so happy I got to practice then,” Mueller said, adding that patients seem more demanding today.

“And we didn’t advertise. That just wasn’t done,” Mueller said, reflecting on the billboard and TV commercials that are now so common for his industry.

“It really was the golden age of dentistry,” Mueller said.

Click here to comment on this story »