100 Years Ain’t Long Enough

How long is long enough when it comes to doing what you love? We hear of legacies and lasting relationships only infrequently anymore. Unfortunately we live in a society that disregards relationships and looks at anything lasting longer than overnight as “too much commitment”. We toss marriage, loyalty, support and friendship into the same waste receptacle with all the other trash in our lives, only sorting out the few things that can be recycled or reused for our quick personal gain and then re-throwing it out as well. I see us killing the “locally owned” and seeking our satisfaction from the faceless and impersonal internet. We shop for the biggest deal while simultaneously complaining that there isn’t any personality to the service or that consumerism feels lifeless and sterile. When did we decide that cheap replaced durable and permanent? Or why have we sacrificed lasting bonds and quality workmanship for the quick and tawdry wares we can pick up for next to nothing? “Made in America” used to stand for the best of the best, and innovation was the word that every business person longed to make a part of who they were; but we have allowed the quick buck and saving a penny to replace the drive for better, stronger, more enduring.

I’ve talked a bit about my dad in previous posts, and as much as I still feel that he is a man to be emulated, he’s not the only one in my family that I look up to when it comes to dentistry. In 1905, my great grand-father David James Sutton graduated from Northwestern University and came to Idaho. He was one of the very first licensed dentists in the state (apparently, before this time, all you needed to know to be a dentist was what you learned in barber school). He practiced in Montpelier for approximately ten years before moving to Pocatello. Shortly after coming to town, his brother, Robert Sutton—also a Northwestern Dental grad—came to practice with him. They worked side by side for many years and must have done something right, because in 1949, Robert’s son Bland Weaver Sutton followed their lead to become one of the first oral surgeons in the state. He practiced on the corner of Center and Main, in the Washburn building and practiced there until 1973. A few years before he retired, in 1968, my uncle David Porter Sutton (most just call him Porter) stuck a solid landing in his dismount from OHSU in Pocatello. While uncle Port was still up at school in Oregon, a quick visit inspired the greatest man I know (my dad, for any that didn’t pick up on the sentimental reference) to pursue his own destiny as a Sutton dentist. In 1973, my dad and uncle began practicing together and soon thereafter they formed the Pocatello Dental Group. This group of dentists and specialists transformed and revolutionized the way dentists worked with one another in a cooperative fashion. No longer did dentists feel the need to be a solo or partnership entity only. Their thriving practice became the pattern for many other group practices throughout the United States, and many of you probably spent time at the mall with them or up on Center Street during their tenure.

Later, my cousin Doug Sutton, who many of you know as the root canal guy, graduated from Tufts University in 1998, and made his way back to the Gate City. While he lives in Idaho Falls and also has an office there, he spends most of his working time here in Pocatello as an Endodontic specialist (which makes us a very lucky place indeed!) J “Not all who wander are lost” goes the saying, and with that, my awesome sister Stacy (Sutton) Johnson spent much time in the halls of the Hygiene department at ISU and graduated in 1997, ready to clean the teeth of the world! She has had as deep an impact on my decision to do what I do as anyone else. In 2000, Doug’s brother (Porter’s son) Mike graduated from Creighton University and served our country selflessly for 4 years before making the long trek back from Afghanistan/Alaska (although these two locales are not super close to one another, Mike summered in the Middle East while his wife and kids froze in AK) to where he currently practices over on South Bannock Highway. My other cousin Stephen (the weird one of the family) and I both graduated from our respective dental schools in 2006 and joined our fathers’ practices. Stephen practices in Downey when he can find a patient with any teeth (that’s his joke, not mine), and I work very fortunately here in Pocatello, ID with the best people on earth!

As you can tell, dental blood runs deep with our family (you might even say that “the force is strong with us”). Over 100 years of service to a community and state where we’ve lived, played and loved the people and land. We’ve been ever more benefitted by the people we’ve seen than they could have been by us. I’m sure I can speak for all 9 of the Suttons who have spent time in your mouths…THANK-YOU, THANK-YOU, and THANK-YOU!!! I am blessed to be part of such a wonderful family and for the inspiration they’ve given me to become one of them in name and by profession. A hundred years seems like a long time, but it’s not nearly enough for us!