In the final days of his dental practice, Dr. Robert E. Phillips said his patients have been giving him hugs and saying that they’ll miss him.
“And, I say, ‘I’ll miss them, too,’” Phillips said. “They’ve been friends and patients for years, and I still see a lot of them.”
Phillips has practiced dentistry in Weatherford for 61 years, and Wednesday is his final day at work. He has also served on the Weatherford ISD school board, Parker County Sheriff’s Posse and Weatherford Chamber of Commerce board of directors, among other organizations.
Phillips described his practice as being able to work on teeth while also visiting with his patients. Before his retirement, Phillips ran his practice with the assistance of Mary Hilliard, who has worked with Phillips since 1992.
Hilliard said she has worked for many dentists but will not work for another because none can beat working with Phillips. She enjoyed her work and described the workplace atmosphere as like family and a privilege.
Hilliard especially likes that dental practice was set up to allow her and Phillips to get to know their patients, she said.
“The fact that our office is not fast-paced, that it is more personable, it’s more about the patients, a rapport and talking to them and not just shoving them through the room to get the next one in,” Hilliard said. “We’re not fast-paced. We’re just an old-timey small-town dentist office.”
Dentistry runs in Phillips’ family with his dad and brother being dentists. Phillips graduated from the Baylor School of Dentistry in 1958, and in the years prior, he had been drafted by the U.S. Army. He was looking for a place to open a dentist office in his hometown on Fort Worth but was told dentists were needed in Weatherford. Phillips first opened a shop on the courthouse square and eventually had to move to his current location on Dallas Avenue.
Many aspects of Weatherford have changed in 61 years, and Phillips recounted some of these changes, including residential and commercial developments.
“It’s like the whole county’s opened up and growing,” Phillips said. “It’s like everywhere.”
Phillips also noted changes in dentistry, including an increase in costs, differences in equipment and materials and more women in the profession.
“I pulled a lot of teeth when I started for $5 and fillings for $5,” Phillips said. “Now, $100 is a cheap one.”
Phillips said he plans to take it easy after retirement, including working on his garden at home.
“I’m ready, it’s been a long time,” Phillips said. “My dad always told me, ‘If you can’t do something right, don’t do it.’ Some of the things I can’t do like I wanted to, and it’s getting harder to do a lot of those things.”
One of Phillips’ daughters Kathleen Chadick recalled her dad performing her dental procedures. Her dad was the first dentist for her children.
Chadick described her dad as a kind man who would make deals with patients who had difficulty paying for his services.
“He was instilled as a young guy with his brothers that they would always help family, help people out because someday you might need the help,” Chadick said.