Local dental practice turns 50

October 14, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A local dental practice celebrated 50 years of service this week with a lawn party.

Thorne and Hollingshead General Dentistry is a hometown practice serving about 6,000 patients.

A white tent and tables with long white tablecloths were set up beside the office, where guests congratulated the dentists and the staff.

A half-century ago, Dr. William O. Potts and his wife, Peggie, moved to Greencastle from their home near Pittsburgh because he wanted to practice dentistry in a small town. He said he founded the practice in their home, often helping his wife with the children between patients. He often treated patients in exchange for a bag of beans, a chicken or a home-made pie.

After five years, the practice outgrew the Potts' dining room and pantry, and he built the present building at 196 S. Washington St., a half block from their home.


In 1961, he hired his first assistant, Gloria Stahl. She retired in 2002. In 1967, he hired Linda Hollingshead, who is still employed there.

Potts brought Dr. G. William Thorne into the practice in 1982, then retired in 1988.

Tuesday afternoon, Potts, 77, talked about the changes he has seen in dentistry.

"The equipment has been so vastly improved. It's more comfortable for the dentist and for the patient," he said. "(Dentistry) has come a long way.

"We're no longer just putting in fillings and extracting teeth, we're maintaining the teeth. It has been fantastic," he said.

He added that "it doesn't seem like 50 years at all. Dentistry has been very good. The people who worked in this office were the finest. They did not work for me, we worked together."

Although he and his wife now live in Carlisle, Pa., Potts comes back to the office to visit and to have his teeth checked.

"I could never stay away," he said.

Potts and his wife have been involved with Christian missions in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador for 27 years, visiting Central America for two-week stretches. After his retirement, they spent six weeks at a time in those countries, with some six-month stays, he said.

Since 1997, Dr. Justin C. Hollingshead, 34, has practiced dentistry with Thorne. The son of long-time employee Linda Hollingshead, he enjoys practicing in his hometown and treating people he has known all his life.

His mother's long association with the practice probably influenced his decision to become a dentist, he said.

Linda Hollingshead, a registered dental hygienist, said that technology has made things a lot easier and more efficient in the office.

"It makes (going to the dentist) a fun experience for children," she said. "There are very few cavities, because of fluoride and sealants."

Thorne, 53, added on to the building in 1992 and again in 2003 as the practice expanded. The staff now numbers 11.

Memorabilia from Thorne's family adorns the walls - his father's christening gown from 1922, a page from a nursing textbook used by his mother and samplers made by his grandmother.

Thorne, who had previously practiced in Frederick, Md., for seven years, said that he practices in Greencastle because it is "a nice, small town."

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