Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

April 30, 2014

Dentist fills life void

Air Force veteran opens area dental practice

JACKSONVILLE — A six-year stint as a United States Air Force pararescue jumper convinced Bruce Lamond that he wanted to work in a field where he could continue serving others.

And Jacksonville's family-friendly atmosphere convinced him that East Texas was the best place to set up his dental practice.

“It's really been a blessing to us,” he said of himself and fiancée Jennifer Walls, who serves as dental hygiene coordinator and is in charge of marketing and publicity for Dental Solutions of East Texas.

Being in Jacksonville “is turning our life around and giving us what we wanted,” Lamond said. “As we learn more about the community, the more chance we have to get involved, but this community has given back tenfold what we've given them. It's a family-friendly atmosphere, which is just what I always wanted.”

This past year, he purchased the 1501 E. Rusk St. building that housed separate dental practices of Drs. David Simmons and Charles Coppock, taking over their client lists and opened for business in October.

Lamond, 48, enlisted in the Air Force immediately after graduating from a Fullerton, California, high school in 1982.

“I had my 18th birthday in boot camp,” he laughed. “My mom had to sign me up (for the military.)”

His initial training was at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, with additional training at different schools on bases throughout the country.

Pararescue jumpers are trained in recovery and medical treatment of individuals in humanitarian and combat environments. Lamond said they are the people who go in and rescue others.

During his stint from 1982 to 1988, he was stationed in Iceland and England, traveling the globe while serving missions.

It was while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that his journey as a dentist was launched, inspired by Tom Williams, a local dentist who Lamond said he “really enjoyed watching how he interacted with his patients and the community. You could tell he really enjoyed what he was doing.”

Williams, he added, “put it together for me – 'You've got a background in medicine, and you're good with your hands,'” he told Lamond.

After receiving degrees from Southern Illinois University and from Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, Lamond began practicing in 2001, working primarily in the Dallas Metroplex, as well as working two years in the Portland, Oregon, area.

The Jacksonville connection was Dr. Simmons, whose brother Lamond knew from dental school.

The younger dentist had been looking throughout Texas for a place where he could foster strong relationships with patients and their families, when he learned Simmons had his practice up for sale.

“And having family in the (Lufkin) area made it a little bit of a no-brainer," Lamond said.

While working two to three days a week with Dr. Simmons, Lamond was approached by Dr. Coppock, who told the younger man that he was thinking about retiring and suggested that “'if you were to buy both of them, maybe it would work out for you.'”

“It had crossed my mind that with economics being what they were, combining the practices into a bigger one” might just be the answer, he said.

And it was.

“This was what I was looking for in Dallas: There, you meet your patients, but they come and go, and that's not what I had envisioned when I became a dentist,” he said. “I wanted to be a doctor who got to know people and treat them over the years.”

Jacksonville – which he defined as “such an awesome community” – has been a pleasant surprise.

“Here, I see the same people, some who'll just come over to have a cup of coffee with us. They actually do that here! They'll ask how you're doing, invite you over to play some golf,” Lamond said. “And we're seeing older patients in their eighties and nineties, who are in great shape. And that's amazing to me, because I'm not used to seeing that.”

Another positive thing about operating a small-town practice is that he's able to provide a variety of different services for his clients, “and I think it's great, because it lets me do a little bit of everything, which is what I've wanted to do as a dentist.”

Yet, he also has the option to send patients to nearby Tyler for specialized procedures, if needed.

“The nice thing is that some of the things we can't do – like when we tell someone they need to take their child to a pediatric dentist or to an oral surgeon – all they have to do is go into Tyler, and they can be there in 30 minutes,” Lamond said.

As he continues to build his practice – with the help of Walls and office manager Carrie Parker and hygienists Sarah Coates and Michann Hicks – his hope is that Dental Solutions of East Texas grows more involved in the community.

“This whole experience is just a lot different (than before), and it's really made a big impact on our lives,” Lamond said.

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