Ever since you were in the fourth grade, you wanted to become a dentist. At that tender age, what inspired you to practice dentistry?
Growing up, I spent a lot of time in my dentist’s office. I liked it there. I remember it being a happy place. I trusted everyone there and felt like they wanted what was best for me, and I was very intrigued by the work itself. I was already pretty good with my hands, which I sensed was pretty important, and I liked the idea of helping people and relieving them of pain.
Faith is undoubtedly the cornerstone of your life. In addition to practicing dentistry, how does being a substitute worship leader impact your life?
Ironically, leading worship at our church is the only time I feel comfortable before a crowd. Music has always been the medium that speaks to me the most, especially praise and worship music. I like the old classics, but I connect with contemporary Christian music. I enjoy taking the preaching minister’s theme and planning the service to not only compliment but reinforce the lesson.
You’ve been married for four decades (43 years to be exact). What an accomplishment. How has your marriage sustained you and helped you overcome hardships in your life?
Oh, wow, I guess it has been that long, but in so many ways, it seems like yesterday. Rita is truly my biggest cheerleader. My partner, my confidant, my conscience, and my best friend. We have had some obstacles to face, but overall, we have been blessed in our life. Our extended family and our small group at church have been our lifeline through thick and thin, and we couldn’t imagine life without them.
Being a proud parent/father, you raised three beautiful daughters. What are some Christian values that you instilled in your children that they carry with them today?
We have tried to teach our girls that they don’t have to be the best at everything, but to do the best they can. We wanted them to be able to support themselves should the need arise. Also, to surround themselves with good and godly friends and make it a priority for their families to have a deep relationship with Jesus.
It takes a servant’s heart to do what you do. While treating your patients, what brings you the most joy?
Most of my staff has been with me for about 20+ years, and many of our patients longer than that. I enjoy going to work every day to see my second family. As far as treating patients go, relieving someone from pain is always rewarding. But the most fun comes from seeing a patient’s reaction after a cosmetic procedure. And seeing them laugh out loud instead of covering their mouth because they are embarrassed. It is truly the best.
Do you have a motto or affirmation that you incorporate into your daily routine?
Our practice goals have never been to meet financial quotas. We trusted that growth would come if we just treated people right. If we have a goal, it is to keep our patients for life by being compassionate and giving them options when it comes to treatment.
You mentioned that you try to be involved in the community, but more in a shadowy kind of way. Tell us more about your specific involvement in the community?
I stuttered severely growing up and still struggle with speaking at times.
It’s better if I am in a very comfortable environment, and at work, my patients and staff provide that. I’m also more introverted than not and am pretty happy being in the background of almost any situation. I don’t feel the need to be front and center to contribute to a given situation. My family and I have always been very involved in community activities, from school to the ball fields and our church. We have been to Mexico many times on church mission trips, as well as to Guatemala on medical missions. I have served on the boards of a local school and an adoption agency for many years. We have recently started working with Mercy House and thoroughly enjoy being involved there.
As Christians, we all fall short. What advice would you give for being too hard on yourself, even when you’re putting your best foot forward?
Grace was never emphasized or taught in the church of my youth. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, so neither should we. If He loves us enough to forgive us, we need to learn to forgive ourselves as well.
Dale Entrekin was born and raised in Gadsden, Alabama. He’s married to Rita Entrekin. They have three daughters with corresponding sons-in-law and three grandchildren.