Lennie as he is affectionately called was born in British Guyana, a sovereign state on the northern mainland of South America. Guyana has the distinction of being the only South American nation in which English is the official language.
He wasn’t sure he wanted to work in the dental industry. His brother was a dental laboratory technician and when in high school his Mother made him work with his brother in the laboratory; he didn’t like it. However, when his brother immigrated to the U.S., Lennie took over the laboratory business and realized being his own boss, he loved it. He was happy and had a successful business for a few years, but his family immigrated to the U.S. and were insisting he join them. So after six years being his “own boss” Lennie followed his family and immigrated to the U.S. and moved to the state of Florida. He and his brother worked together again as laboratory technicians, but Lennie really didn’t like it this time because while in Guyana, even though denturitry was not a recognized profession, the need was so great that technicians served people and the “powers that be” turned a blind eye. However, that was not so in the U.S. He did not like the limitations and inability to do his best when mandated to follow a prescription more often with an inferior impression sent from a dentist.
Needless to say Lennie was quite disenchanted with the U.S. and Florida, yet he trudged along in his dental laboratory until one of his suppliers asked him if he was going to the denturist meeting. He was not familiar with the profession but was excited about what he had learned and anxious to attend the meeting. When he arrived at the hotel he saw hundreds of people and thought everyone was a denturist; he knew no one and, asked directions from a stranger, coincidentally Paul Levasseur, a denturist from Maine who was attending the meeting. Lennie was welcomed warmly by the denturist group. He said, “The registration fee of $25 to attend this meeting was the best $25 1’ve ever spent.” However, he learned it was not as easy as he thought to become independent, there was school involved, but he didn’t care. He couldn’t wait until Monday after the conference to call and enroll in George Brown College. He said he didn’t even ask what it cost; he was going to college to be a denturist and was more determined and worked even harder for recognition in Florida; he approached groups like the AARP and other associations but they all seemed to be owned or influenced by the dental lobby. He went to his representative who disappointingly told him quite frankly, “You have no money, I can’t help you?” He went to another politician who listened to his request, but told him quite frankly, “My brother is a dentist and if this issue should ever come up for a vote in the legislature, I will definitely vote against it.” By this time he had heard denturists could practice independently in Washington State and he had made friends with Michael Coffey, a Washington denturist, who had invited him to visit. One visit was all it took. He started looking for an office immediately, found a beautiful office for rent, and bought it. The rest is history as far as his business.
Just talking to Lennie, one knows immediately that he loves what he does and he has a heart to serve. He has a thriving business, but still will serve shut in’s if called. He would advise anyone wanting to enter the profession to enter it with their heart and always put the patient first. Patient satisfaction is the emotional reward which generates the tangible reward of a successful practice. He says with a bit of pride, “I have a patient that comes from South Dakota, one from Alaska and another from South Carolina.” He never tires of the comments from patients and seeing their positive reactions, he knows his efforts most often will be life changing for them. He is delighted to relate the comments from a patient’s son who said, “That is exactly how my Mom used to look;” or from another patient, “You gave me back my life, I can see me again when I look in the mirror.”
Lennie also wants to give back to the profession that has given him so much. He is mentoring a student from the American Denturist College. He says she is an excellent practitioner and he is pushing her to become the best she can be. As a mentor he wants students to serve with excellence and pride. He is active serving his community participating as a Community Health Partner working with the University of Washington Denture Program at the UW Community Dental Clinic providing the needs of disadvantaged working adults in southwest Washington. He has received recognition as a volunteer for the Clark County Skills Center training interns and Clark County Substance Abuse Center improving the lives of people in recovery. His wife, Analie serves as his office manager at their busy denturist practice and they agree the seven members of their staff are like family. He is proud of his children who are off to their various careers except the youngest still at home in middle school.
He is genuinely grateful to the pioneers who have nurtured the profession this far and all the individuals and the NDA, USA who he credits for his success by giving their support and encouragement from his first introduction to the profession. He states, “When I was first starting, they never denied their help.” He is a member of the NDA, USA and serves on the Education Committee. He is a strong advocate for national denturist recognition and his benevolent efforts have extended to the International Federation of Denturists and their efforts in the country of Malta. Lennie’s philosophy, There are dreamers and there are people who go after their dreams…I’m glad I went after my dream.”