We weren't sure how to begin when we decided to write our humble tribute to Dr. Greg and his impressive dental career. It can be hard to reminisce without sounding like you’re writing a eulogy, and this retirement is certainly not something to be mourned. Dr. Greg has a world of excitement awaiting him in this new venture: travels to the north and south, quality time with his loving wife Marilyn, a pack of adoring grandkids just waiting to be spoiled. But there are things we’ll miss, and we couldn't let this pass without taking a moment to consider some of them.
Dentistry wasn't even Dr. Greg’s original plan. He initially began his post-high school education in seminary prep, destined to become a man of the cloth. Lucky for him - and for everyone touched by his 38 years in the field - he met Marilyn during that time, and knew that he needed to reassess. He found his way to dentistry and took up the mantle of his father’s business, becoming the second generation of Strobels to provide dental care in downtown Chicago.
Thirty-eight years is a long time, a lifetime, which makes it even harder to distill everything we want to say about Dr. Greg into a single post. A few things stand out universally among his employees’ memories…
He was one of the most compassionate practitioners you’ll ever meet, and fiercely loyal. This was evident even as a dental student, when he went to every superior he had to fight restrictions that would have prevented him from getting a patient out of pain. Instead of treating her many teeth - each in need of root canal therapy - one at a time per school policy, he lobbied until he was able to get her comfortable and stable first, then proceed with treatment. She returned this dedication to her health by remaining a patient of his for the next 38 years.
Dr. Greg could not stand the thought of a patient in pain - something you would hope you could say about any healthcare provider, but a thing we sadly know to be less common. He would regularly disregard personal convenience to get a patient on the schedule and out of pain immediately, and would treat them regardless of their ability to pay. His pro-bono work is one of the things our staff remembers particularly fondly - Dr. Greg took his role as a healthcare provider seriously, and knew that this meant doing whatever he was capable of for as many as he could.
His patients were more than acquaintances; they were friends. The level of familiarity and care that Dr. Greg brought to the practice is extremely rare in a big city like Chicago, and it’s a quality he helped instill in the entire office. The outpouring of well wishes and love that we have seen from patients since he announced his retirement is a testament to that.
Dr. Greg’s compassion didn't end at patients - he was extremely good to his staff as well. He knew the importance of generosity and respect when dealing with employees (who really became more like family), and his skill at relating to them and running the business kept people in his employ for stretches greater than 20 years. A perfect example:
One of our hygienists, new to the practice and struggling with a really unlucky streak of patient miscommunications, came into the back one day in tears. Ready to give up, convinced that it was just not a good fit, she broke down as the doctors were sitting at their desks. Dr. Greg leapt up, gave her a big hug, and promptly began to assure her that it would all be fine. That vote of confidence and show of affection is the reason that hygienist stayed with us, and she has gone on to show her incredible talent and develop a fantastic relationship with our patients since.
Compassionate as he was, Dr. Greg did have a strong, serious business side, and could always be counted upon to ask the good questions that kept everyone moving forward. Professional, exacting and authoritative, he always expected the best from his staff and engendered the respect necessary to get it. He brought his hyper-intelligence and extremely inquisitive nature to bear every day, always pushing to make sure we were doing things the best way possible.
Since he had plenty of “down to business” time, watching him loosen up was always a treat. Dr. Greg was always good for the unexpected, well-timed joke at our office parties. You could bank on a funny comic appearing on the break room wall or making it to Facebook weekly. And when his grand-kids came into the office, it was all over. His face would melt and he was no longer Dr. Greg, but doting Grandpa. The goofy, softer side that lightened our business days may well be what we will all miss most.
It’s hard to say goodbye, even when it’s not really goodbye but just a transition into a different phase. We’re thrilled for him but a little sad, and it’s important to acknowledge that as we adapt and grow. We miss seeing you at your desk every day big man. Don’t be a stranger! :)