Amidst family, friends, patients and employees, present and former, Dr. Elmer Thiessen bid adieu to 45 years of being a full-time dentist during a celebration held last Sunday.
Organized by his children, the party held at the Thiessen home on Anderson Road was also a tribute to his wife Shirley who supported him throughout his career and often worked at Comer Clinic.
“For those of us who have invested our lives in Williams Lake we can only always thank those who put their trust in us and were willing to be our patients,” Elmer smiled as he looked around the room. “I want to give a heartfelt thank you to all of you. I also want to give honour to my Saviour Jesus Christ and thank Him for what he has allowed me to be with his spirit living in me.”
Elmer became interested in becoming a dentist after his older brother — a family doctor in Calgary — and his father encouraged him to take advantage of a lifestyle involved in healthcare and serving people.
In 1969, after graduating from the University of Alberta’s school of dentistry, he and Shirley moved to Williams Lake.
“The first day of my dental practice here in Williams Lake was Oct. 20, 1969 in the Comer Clinic where I ended my career 45 years later,” he said during an interview with his son Mark Thiessen at the party.
They chose Williams Lake because a friend was ready to start general practice in medicine at the same time.
“He had seen an article in our church denomination periodical encouraging young professionals to consider coming to help in the recently established Cariboo Bethel Church in Williams Lake,” Elmer recalled.
“We travelled to Williams Lake in May 1968 and met Cariboo Bethel church congregants.”
They also travelled north through communities to Prince George and then west to Prince Rupert looking for a community to settle in the following year.
“While dad is now retired from dentistry, he carries on with a great deal of community involvement including Camp Likely, Chamber of Commerce, Restorative Justice, and the Men’s Choir,” Mark said. “He is also a board member of the international Christian Medical & Dental Association, having just served as president of the Canadian chapter.”
Shirley will continue to be involved in the Cariboo Piecemakers quilting club, and both of them will continue to travel and spend time with their children and grandchildren.
“Shirley and I look forward to many productive years in community involvement from this day forward,” Elmer said.