Photo by Sean Roney
Dr. David Phillips stands in front of his dentist office, which he has closed as he retires to spend more time with his family.
BY SEAN RONEY
FOR GREENFIELD NEWS
SOUTH COUNTY — David Phillips has closed his King City dental practice as of the middle of March, officially retiring after 40 years.
The decision to retire was made in January, with his longtime dental assistant, Michele Silva, also retiring in February after 26 years.
“I felt a need for a little more time with my grandkids and my family,” said Phillips of his decision. “After 40 years (of dentistry), a couple more years one way or the other wasn’t going to matter much. Two years more with my little 2- and 5-year-old granddaughters on the other hand would be a big difference.”
Phillips compared his retirement to Cardinals and A’s baseball manager Tony La Russa.
“I vowed that I would one day retire from dentistry on top,” he said. “That I wouldn’t wait to see if my skills had eroded or my passion for my work had diminished. I wanted to go out loving my work, still feeling like I was good at what I was doing. I wanted to retire the way La Russa did. I feel really fortunate to be able to do that.”
The choice to end to be with family echoes Phillips’ decision to go into dentistry. He described his youth in the ‘50s and ‘60s as coming of age in an altruistic time, but also having been raised with a strong family ethic along with three sisters and two brothers.
“I was going to save lives,” he said. “I got into college and I was working really hard to get grades good enough to get into medical school.” Then he said he observed the toll taken on doctors. “On call, answering emergencies, answering crisis situations, missing the kids’ soccer games, missing this event, missing that event. I wanted to be a family guy first.”
Phillips explained he chose dentistry to be able to structure his career around his family. “We were supported by my profession and I feel that I treated my patients well and gave them what they needed,” he said.
Phillips characterized his coming to King City as “stumbling upon” the small town after leaving Los Angeles: “I got so drawn in so quickly to the sense of community.”
He went on to add, “Just this spirit that runs through a good chunk of King City, that it’s a very special place to be.”
Over the years, Phillips said he and his wife Janice have been active in the Grace Lutheran Church, notably the Solid Rock Youth group and the yearly high school trips to Mexico, as well as the Lockwood 4-H as swine leaders, and the Stage Hands.
Of his decades of practice, Phillips said, “I got here and discovered through the 40 years that my work has been about the person that walks through the door. It’s never been to me about the teeth. It’s been about the person.”
He added, “Helping them overcome their anxieties about having dental work done, telling stories until maybe they’re tired of hearing the same stories over and over, but actively being engaged as a storyteller because that helps.”
A small retirement gathering was recently held for Phillips where he was surrounded by longtime patients and friends. He noted, “You get to develop a closeness, almost family, but a very heart-to-heart relationship with somebody you’ve spent meaningful time with that much over those years.”
He added, “I’ve gotten very warm wishes and a lot of heartfelt expressions gratitude. We’ve really meant a lot to each other over the years.”
The dental practice has been sold to Dr. George Ingham in Greenfield. The former dentist office on South Russ Street in King City is for sale.