Dentist, wife set to retire

FAIRMONT – For 30 years, the Jorgensons have worked side by side at their dental practice and, in another month, the two will retire together.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said hygienist Terry Jorgenson, as she sat in the waiting room with her husband, Dr. Nate Jorgenson.

“A lot of sad goodbyes,” he added.

It was the 1970s when Dr. Jorgenson met his wife at the University of Minnesota dental school, where she was an instructor.

Simply being accepted into dental school is one of his biggest accomplishments, said Jorgenson, who was among a select few applicants to make it in.

Cleaning out his office in preparation for his retirement, Jorgenson recently found a spool of gold foil. His class was among the last in dental school to learn how to use the material.

“We had to pound gold foil into a tooth with a hammer,” he said.

Thankfully for patients and practitioners, methodology and technology have changed drastically since then.

“I think I’m doing the best work of my life right now,” Jorgenson said.

When the Jorgensons moved to Fairmont in the early 1980s, they were just in time for the economic uncertainties of the farm crisis. They were familiar with the area, as Jorgenson grew up in Jackson, but it was a tough time to start a new practice. They persevered and stayed on. Over the years, they have seen their client base grow and evolve, as they’ve now provided dental care for multiple generations.

“Each day we’ve had to say goodbye to people we’ve known for 30 years,” Terry said. “We know them, we know their kids, we know their grandchildren.”

Meanwhile, their own family has grown. They now have three children and two grandchildren, with a third on the way.

Dr. Jorgenson is just 60 years old – his birthday was Thursday – so he has no plans to stop working when he retires from dentistry. He and Terry will be moving to northern Minnesota to live in a “rustic little cabin in the woods.”

“It’s really exciting,” said Terry, her blue eyes sparkling.

There, they intend to spend time enjoying the outdoors with their favorite fishing partners: each other. The cabin has also served as a writing retreat for Jorgenson, and he hopes to complete a couple of books he has started.

To anyone familiar with the couple, their retirement plans should come as no surprise. Stepping into the dental office is like stepping into a cozy, comfortable cabin. Antique snowshoes decorate one wall, an ornate woodburning stove reaches to the ceiling, and a stack of Jorgenson’s three previously published novels are displayed on a side table.

“I never thought I’d be a writer,” he said, but he has learned that life is full of surprises. After “The Mulligan” was published, he was approached by a Hollywood studio interested in turning the novel into a movie.

“Who knows what could happen?” he said.

An open house for the Jorgensons is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. May 3 at the office of Dr. Jeff Fordice, who is taking over Jorgenson’s practice.