BONNERS FERRY — Where once lay a run-down old motel and a tree, now sits the shiny new building of Hank Willis Dentistry.
Willis comes from a long line of physicians. His father was a physician in the U.S. Air Force, and subsequently, their family moved to many places. After spending a summer working in an emergency room while thinking about the direction he wanted to take his career path, Willis realized he didn’t want to continue in his father’s footsteps, but still wanted to pursue a career in the medical field.
“I always had good dental experiences growing up,” said Willis. “When I realized that I didn’t actually like working in the emergency room, I knew that I still liked healthcare and health sciences, so that lead me towards dentistry.”
Willis graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle in 2003. A scholarship paid two years of tuition, and in order pay it back, Willis had to work at an office that accepted the students who participated in the program. Out of the list they gave him, Willis narrowed down his choices, then he made calls and visits.
“We visited Bonners Ferry and fell in love with the place,” said Willis. ”I felt like I could go anywhere and make it happen, but we wanted a small town where we could raise our family, and this place fit the bill. We also wanted to settle in a place where we were comfortable to stay long term and not just the two year payback for the scholarship.”
After residing in Bonners Ferry for the past 14 years and opening the dentist office in 2007, Willis said, “This is something we have been looking forward to for a long time. We were in the old office for longer than we should have been because we were outgrowing the space.”
After going from four rooms to six, Willis said, “It has allowed us a lot more availability to get people in quickly. We went from a long waiting list for tooth cleaning, and now with the extra room, we can get people in more quickly and efficiently for their appointments.”
From the outside of the building, passersby can see the large entryway lit up with lights made locally. The artistic quality is mirrored throughout the office which is adorned with paintings and photos acquired from local artists. One of the main artists showcased in the office is Hannah Willis. She doesn’t do it by trade, but with her artistic abilities, Hannah Willis has a knack for interior design as well.
They brought their four children together to make paintings that now hang in the children’s area and shed color into the new space. Adorning the doors is their new logo, created by eighth-grader Levi Bonnell.
There was a large old tree on the property that needed to be removed, so a friend of theirs who is an interior designer, Courtney Tanner, took cuttings of the old Black Lotus tree and made prints that now hang on the wall in the hallway.
“I thought it was a neat little touch to have something that was here before the building was,” said Hank Willis.
Hank Willis also donates to show support for the community by annual donations to the Distinguished Young Women, the Pearl Theater, and the Missoula Children’s Theater, when they come to town. They have also made some significant donations to the playground at the Boundary County Fairgrounds, as well as participating in the 4H/FFA animal market sale, then donates the meat to the local food banks. He also gives dental and anti-smoking presentations to the elementary schools in the district.
“We want to meet the healthcare needs of the community in a way that shows people that dentistry doesn’t have to be something to fear or be scared about,” said Hank Willis. “I want to make people feel comfortable and at home and treat people compassionately and provide a very high level of care. “
For further information, visit www.hankwillisdds.com, their Facebook page, or call 208-267-6454.