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Richard Tye of Wilmette has been a dentist for 40 years, but he’s a colorful exception to the white-coated ambience of his profession. Tye, who now practices in Evanston, loves Hawaii. He takes care of his patients while wearing colorful Hawaiian shirts. He talked to Pioneer Press Dec. 1.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: I grew up in Park Forest, Ill. I went to Northwestern University and to Northwestern Dental School. I moved to Wilmette in 1976; that year I got married, and purchased my first practice, so it was an eventful year.

Q: When did you become interested in dentistry?

A: I had an uncle who was a dentist. I got interested in the field because of the ability to help people. It was either that, or medicine, and I didn’t think I could handle the possibility of any patient dying, so I thought this was the best way to help people.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?

A: Developing a relationship with people, and their families. Watching kids grow up and bring their kids in. I think we’re into the third generation. Seeing people not just as patients, but as your friends.

Q: Why do you like Hawaii?

A: I have cousins, aunt, and uncles who live there, but I first visited when I went to Northwestern and met some classmates who were from Hawaii … I really like the lifestyle, the culture, the friendliness of the people and obviously, the weather.

Q: Why did you decide to wear Hawaiian shirts to work?

A: After going through dental school, where everyone wore white gowns, I thought wearing a Hawaiian shirt might relax my patients. They love it – some of them wear their own Hawaiian shirts to their appointments! I have a closet full of them.

Q: Do you have a favorite cause or charity?

A: We do pro bono work for people not able to afford dental work through Donated Dental Services, which is connected with Dental Lifeline Network(https://dentallifeline.org/illinois/) … I also support A Just Harvest(www.ajustharvest.org/) through our church, Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette.

–Kathy Routliffe, Pioneer Press


Twitter: @pioneer_kathy

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