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Longtime Camden dentist retires

Posted: August 9, 2011 3:04 p.m.
Updated: August 10, 2011 5:00 a.m.
Ashley Lewis Ford/C-I

Longtime Camden dentist Lee Mays retired on June 1, after spending nearly 50 years serving Kershaw County residents. While he says that he is enjoying retirement, Mays added that he will miss spending time with his patients – some of whom he said he has known “for a lifetime.”

When Lee Mays left the U.S. Air Force in 1963, he knew it was time to start his own private dentistry practice. Mays received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Maryland at Baltimore in 1960, and spent three years serving as a dentist in the Air Force.

“I decided to come back home. I’m from Camden … I was born and raised here,” Mays said, relaxing in the living room of his Camden home. “I looked around at different places but I couldn’t find anyplace better to open a practice. I went to work for a dentist here named Dr. Hinson, and then I opened my practice on Jan. 23, 1964, in Burndale Shopping Center.”

For the next 47 years, Mays practiced dentistry in that same Camden office. Two months ago, he finally made the decision to retire.

“I’m getting old,” he said, laughing. “I figured 50 years was enough.”

Growing up, Mays said he always knew that he wanted to work in the medical profession, and even considered a career as a physician.

“But truthfully, I had to go to the dentist a lot, and I figured there has to be something better than this. And I didn’t want to be called all hours of the night as a physician, so I decided to go into dentistry,” he said. “When I opened my own practice, it wasn’t hard because there weren’t that many dentists here. In fact, I think I was the fifth one to open here, and now we’ve got about 11 or 12.”

Over the years, Mays employed a small group of employees: a receptionist, dental hygienist and dental assistant. The hygienist, he said, worked with him for 25 years.

When asked what he liked most about his decades-long career in Camden, Mays immediately says that he will always miss spending time with his patients.

“Some of them were with me for a lifetime. I hate to give them up, and I really miss going down there – I just miss the interaction with the people,” Mays said. “I enjoyed talking with them and finding out what made them tick. The patients made it all worth it.”

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