Harbor chamber honors dentist's long-running membership
CANDACE MCPHARLIN WILLIAMS/NEWS-REVIEW Dr. Michael Pierce (front row, center) receives a surprise visit in recognition of his¿ practice¿s long-time Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce affiliation. On hand for the visit were (front row, from left) Jill Petro, Marge Owen, Scott Langton, Joy Labadie (back row) Tom Trautman, Gregg Garver, Daniel DeWindt, Allison Loubert and Jonanna Leopold. (Candace McPharlin Williams/News-Review / April 2, 2013)
Dr. Graham "Mike" Pierce notes that he wasn't the dentist who first established the practice's chamber membership, which dates back to April 1959. Pierce gives that credit to his uncle, Dr. Tom Graham, referring to him with a laugh as "one of the original instigators."
Pierce's grandfather, Dr. Frank Graham, began the dental practice in 1903 just after graduating from dental school and moving to the community from Lowell. His uncle, Dr. Tom Graham, joined in 1944. Pierce got involved in 1962, and for a while three generations were involved in the operation. Pierce is currently in his golden year at the practice, with his career there spanning nearly half of the dental operation's history.
The Harbor chamber recently surprised Pierce with a large green bucket of gifts in celebration of long membership. He grinned widely and laughed at the presentation while taking a short break from his packed day of dental work.
The surprise was sprung in the waiting room, with patients and staff looking on. Pierce glanced through the collection of gifts, noting some favorites and nodding at chamber executive director Daniel DeWindt and Jill Petro, who heads the chamber's membership committee.
Smiling over the assortment of travel related presents, he wondered out loud if airport security agents would let him take the yo-yo on board to play with during long flights. The gift bucket idea came to Petro because of Pierce's personal "bucket list," which includes many travel plans as well as activities at those destinations.
The next trip Pierce plans will be to areas around Australia, which will require four plane rides and 23 hours of flying. It will include time to enjoy Tasmania, the isolated and unique Lord Howe Island, where only 350 people live, and snorkeling off the Great Barrier Reef.
Looking back, Pierce observed that Harbor Springs has changed quite a bit since he started working here. The chamber has changed as well, he said.
"Recently with him (DeWindt) on board, it's become much more active," Pierce noted
One interest he can look back at along with his career has been active membership in the Little Traverse Yacht Club -- especially the Little Traverse Sailors program which gives children hands-on instruction in sailing. His community involvement also has included service on the school board, as well as involvement in the drive to get flouride added to Harbor Springs' city water -- a change he believes has benefited the condition of patients' teeth.
Petro, who is making an effort to highlight long-time chamber members, noted that Pierce has "a great reputation which precedes him."
"Everybody raves about him," she said. "Everyone sort of smiles when I say his name."
Sharon Wright, a receptionist for Pierce since 1971, noted that while the dentist had grown up in California, his family "has roots here and he has always loved Harbor Springs."
"They would come here for summers and he loved it here," Wright said. "His dental degree is from University of Michigan. He spends a lot of time at seminars and continuing education."
Along with the changes in his community, Pierce has seen approaches to dentistry evolve as well.
"When I went to school we did everything with a slow speed drill," he said, adding that "It's just been phenomenal, the changes."
For example, Pierce recently returned from a dental seminar covering new techniques -- with which "you don't put anything in the mouth" of the patient during treatment.
"Can you even imagine that," he said.
Wright, Pierce's receptionist, noted that all of the dentist's employees are long-term staffers.
"It's a great office to work in. His patients love him," she said, adding that "He sees their children and grandchildren."