Dr. James King of Total Family Dentistry has retired after 25 years of owning and operating his dental practice on Harrison Avenue in Centralia.
King has sold the practice to Dr. Donald Lee, a dentist who has been working at a private practice in Everett for the past five years.
Lee plans to upgrade the technology, modernize the dental office’s services and change the business’s name to Smile Centralia Dental Care.
“I was looking for someone with some experience, and Dr. Lee does. He seems like a good fit for the community,” King said.
A Minnesota native, King graduated from dental school at the University of Minnesota. He then worked for several years on Native American reservations where he performed emergency and urgent care, surgeries and extractions.
“Everybody here is so nice. That was really pleasant going into private practice — families and people were very reasonable,” King said. “Just over the years practicing in a small town, similar to what I grew up in, was very comfortable for me.”
King said he enjoyed being involved in the community over the years by sponsoring youth soccer and baseball teams and attending the games with other parents. As for retirement plans, King and his wife, Regina, who teaches business classes at Centralia College, are hoping to do some traveling when the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.
“We decided not to plan too much because of COVID but we want to do a lot of traveling, of course. We’ll probably start out in the Washington and Oregon area until COVID gets under control. Then, hopefully, eventually, we can do some traveling overseas,” King said.
King said he enjoyed getting to build relationships with community members while providing dental care over the past 25 years and he is ready to call it a career.
“I’ve worked since I was 16 so I figured, ‘geez, I better let someone else come in so I have some time to be with my wife and kids,’” King said.
Filling King’s shoes is Lee, who graduated from Loma Linda University’s School of Dentistry in California. He began his career working at nonprofit community health centers before moving to private practice in Everett.
Lee’s career move to owning and operating his own dental practice was sparked last year when his recently-retired parents lost their home in the “Apple Fire” in California’s Cherry Valley during 2020’s devastating wildfire season.
“They had no insurance at the time and that tragedy struck a chord with me and I realized I need to provide for them so that took me on the search to start my own practice and start a business,” Lee said. “I was ready to get out of Seattle and the city life anyway, so I feel like God opened some doors and brought me down here.”
Lee said that he hopes to build on King’s established business and update some of the technology.
“(King) was retiring so, of course, the practice has slowed down some, but I want to build it back up to a full swing and modernize it,” Lee said. “I would like to digitize the office and use oral scanners.”
Lee plans to update the dental office’s services as well by adding Invisalign and dental implants to Smile Centralia’s list of offerings.
King’s dental practice wasn’t on the market for long before Lee jumped at the opportunity. Lee said he hasn’t been able to find a place to live yet in Lewis County and has been staying with a local church member that he met in town.
“They’re helping me transition until I can relocate,” he said.
Lee’s wife is currently working as a pharmacist in Seattle, so Lee heads back to the city on the weekends, but he hopes they can find a house and settle in Lewis County soon.
“Taking on being a business owner and wearing the dentist hat on top of it is incredibly stressful, but I’m excited and I have a lot of big aspirations and plans for this place. It’s going to take some time but I’m definitely ready for this new chapter,” Lee said.
More Information on Smile Centralia Dental Care (formerly Total Family Dentistry)
Owner: Dr. Donald Lee, DDS
Location: 228 Harrison Ave. Centralia
Phone: (360) 219-9610
Website: https://www.jameskingdds.com/ (updated website coming soon)