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Do-it-all dentist wins statewide award

DeWin Harris' staff praises his kindness and commitment
by: Carole Archer, DeWin Harris, dentist of the year, is surrounded by admiring employees at his office of family and cosmetic dentistry, at 2428 N.E. Division St., in Gresham. Also pictured, from left, are Office Manager Janie Kotas, Dr. Harris, “Roving Assistant” Debbi Sanders, patient Luis Gutierrez, Dental Hygienist Chris Steinmetz and Dental Assistant Frankie Klingenfuss.

Gresham dentist G. DeWin Harris is Oregon's 2006 Dentist of the Year.

'It's quite an honor,' Harris says. 'I feel very honored to have been nominated since I don't feel my contribution to dentistry even remotely compares with so many others.'

Dr. Harris' staff would disagree.

'He is the greatest boss,' says Dr. Harris' office manager, Janie Kotas. 'But he's modest, and he'd never tell you about the dentist of the year award.'

Behind the dentist's back, his employees have nothing but kind words.

'I can't even tell you how well he treats his employees,' says Harris' dental assistant, Frankie Klingenfuss. 'I have an 11-year-old and Dr. Harris is very family-oriented. He lets me out early if I have to pick her up … he understands.'

Dental hygienist Chris Steinmetz has worked with Dr. Harris for six years and is also filled with praise for the Gresham dentist.

'He's one of the most compassionate dentists with his patients,' Steinmetz says.

Harris' peers agree.

On Friday, Sept. 22, the Academy of General Dentistry honored Harris for his many years of service to the profession and the community.

'You know I've sat through these awards ceremonies before and have admired the other award winners, so I feel very honored to be selected by my peers,' Harris says.

For Harris, the award caps more than 25 years as a dentist. In those 25 years, Harris has continued his studies, taking courses in oral surgery, oral pathology, pharmacology and more. He earned his mastership from the Academy of General Dentistry in 2000.

Today, one of the draws of Harris' practice is that the dentist can perform a variety of procedures and not refer patients to several specialists.

'It is sort of one-stop shopping,' Harris says. 'I don't do a lot of referrals … and it's nice for patients because they stay with someone they know.'

Outside dentistry, Harris has a full life.

Harris has always loved working with children and has been involved with the Boy Scouts of America for the past 20 years, committing one week every summer for the past 15 years as an adult leader at the summertime scout camp, and leading 46 scouts to the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.

He and his wife, Barbara, have been married for 31 years and have five sons, ages 23 to 30, but no grandchildren yet.

'I've tried everything,' Harris jokes about getting grandchildren. 'I've even tried to bribe them, but they still won't do it.'

Harris' dental practice is at 2428 N.E. Division St., Gresham. To make an appointment, call 503-661-7800.