Dr. Charles Crawford remembers his first day practicing dentistry in Fort Mill vividly.
After running a pediatric dental office for a number of years in Rock Hill and later in Lancaster he opened his branch in Fort Mill on S.C. 160 West. That was 35 years ago and he had the only practice in town dedicated to pediatric dentistry.
That first day it was him, one employee and his wife, Rachel, serving as the receptionist.
“I knew only one dentist here, Dr. Coty Fishburne,” Crawford said. “(He) promised me he could help the practice succeed and had two patients waiting for me on my first day. As I looked at the empty office with new equipment and furniture I wondered if it would ever fill up.”
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It certainly did.
Although he won’t admit it, Crawford became a pillar of the Fort Mill community.
“I don't really see myself as a pillar of the community,” he said. “God has blessed me with the opportunity to serve the children of this area and try to make every child feel special and offer them a lifetime of dental health.
“Over time the practice grew, we expanded with an office in Lancaster, then the Fort Mill location was opened. A fond memory was welcoming so many new parents and children from other parts of the county as Fort Mill grew from a small Southern textile town into the widely diverse and rapidly expanding city that it is now. Thank goodness they trusted this good ole' Southern boy with their children's dental health. It was an honor.”
But after serving the community for three decades, Crawford has retired. He still gets warm greetings from former patients.
“Letters from previous staff and heart-felt best wishes from mom's of current patients have filled my heart,” he said. “There have been second generation hugs from parents and patients and as hard as I have tried to prevent them, even a few tears.”
But it is time to walk away as Crawford prepares to transform into grandfather mode, travel with his wife and be a tourist for a while.
“Hey, I'm 68,” he said.
“It's time for my wife, Rachel, and I to spend time with grandchildren who live in Atlanta and Raleigh, and hike the mountains of Colorado with our son who isn't married living there. We enjoy travel and look forward to new life experiences, reconnecting with classmates and new interests as well as more volunteering in the community now that we'll have more time.”
As Crawford closes out his career, Dr. Stephanie Jackson is taking over the practice after practicing as an associate in Charlotte’s Steele Creek area for the previous six years.
“I feel honored and excited to have this opportunity to take over for Dr. Chuck,” Jackson said.
“He is well respected in the community for the high quality of pediatric dental care he has provided for the past 35 years, and I look forward to maintaining his high standards and continuing to be the best children's dental home in the area. I am also excited to work with the talented and experienced staff who his patients already know well.”
Jackson said patients should expect no changes to the high-quality and specialized dental care the practice has always given, serving children from infants to adolescents and specializing in kids with special health care needs. The practice will also remain involved in the local schools and community and Jackson said it will undergo renovations to make it even more welcoming.
“Our practice philosophy is to treat our patients as if they were our own children,” Jackson said.
“As a mom, I understand how important it is to know that your child is receiving top-notch care from a provider who genuinely cares for them.”
She pledged that “Jackson Pediatric Dentistry will carry on Dr. Chuck's legacy of being a place that children look forward to visiting and where what we are about is ‘Smiles and Laughter, Care and Kindness.’”