Dr. Nicholas' Installation Speech

November 8, 2020

Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth!

"Some say I might have been given a bad break-but I’ve got an awful lot to live for. Thank you!"

These were the words spoken by Lou Gehrig, July 4, 1939.

Words spoken by a man fighting a disease that would later bear his name. A man who took 272 words to thank the press, the fans, and the bat boys.

He recognized his teammates past and present, his managers, his parents and lastly his wife.

He never said, why me! He only expressed gratitude for everyone around him.

272 words, unscripted, unrehearsed! Spoken from his heart, the same number of words as in the Gettysburg Address. The difference back then was that Lou Gehrig was fighting a disease all by himself and now, we are all fighting one altogether!

I do not want to focus on that- I want us to focus on the comeback!

Like they said in the movie Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living – or get busy dying.”

I wouldn’t be here or be the person I am today without these influences in my life.

It started early. . . our first week in dental school, a very wise professor told us a story. It was our first encounter with endodontics. His name was Marshall Smulson, he wrote the book on Endo, literally!

He told us the function and the purpose of the heart is to pump blood to the pulp of the tooth. We were all confused but as time went on, we understood what he meant. Your heart is important in this profession, for multiple reasons. Marshall was a very wise man. The heart was a recurring theme for me, even back then!

Family First!

To our nieces and nephews, who I know are all watching this virtual installation, your attendance is noted and will be reflected with your Christmas gifts this year. To our family, who have ALWAYS been there for me, THANK YOU! To Ernie and Jody, Nancy and Frank, Carol and Rich for their generosity and letting us spend so much time with their children.

Celeste and I could not have given our time to organized dentistry without our family picking up the slack with family functions, holidays, and birthdays, and always there when I need them. There is so much more that I want to say but I cannot express my gratitude and thanks to them but since I am saying it now, I will not be buying them a card.

Daddy!

Celeste’s Dad has been like a father in-law to me. . . He gave me his eldest daughter and at the alter said NO RETURNS! He also tells everyone I am a funny guy. My father-in law has ALWAYS been the first one there to help, no matter what. His words of wisdom to me every week are not to do anything electrical. (I do not know why this is a problem, it was only a couple of small fires) Thanks Daddy, for always being on my side!

My mother in law also loved me and was such a special person who treated me almost as good as my brother in law Ernie, and that is saying a lot!

Aunt Annamarie

Next is everybody’s favorite, Aunt Annamarie. She loves crossword puzzles, word searches, Steve Harvey, and ice cream. Aunt Annamarie has helped us for years, first by watching Sammy and now by watching Mickey and Buddy. She has the kindest heart and is always ready to help us out. She is like an older sister to Celeste and her siblings, and her only major flaw is that she is very honest and has no filter, which is why, you never ask her how your jeans look on you. But we love her anyway and we could not have traveled for CDS without her.

Marie

The very first person I met in the family when she was about 4 or 5 years old. She was with Aunt Celeste at our condo pool. She is the leader, the oldest and the wisest of the cousins. Everybody loves and respects Marie. Together with her husband Gered, they have two beautiful daughters, Gianna and Marissa who live for dance.

Michael

Next in line is our nephew Michael. He is always the voice of reason and ready at any time for great conversations. He could be seen in his youth in a pile with any combination of his two younger brothers. Michael is an excellent father and coach, raising three boys, Mission, Auden, and Crue. He continually sets a great example for his boys.

Jonathan

There was a time when we ALL feared him.

Jon is that ONE that everyone turns to when they need help.

He is the first one to come over and help you because he is smart and can fix anything. Jon has a special kindness in his heart. We are all very proud of Jon, together with his wife Audra, who have a beautiful daughter Monroe who is almost a year old.

Kevin

Last but not least, Kevin, the youngest of Ernie and Jody’s children. Kevin decided it would be easier to be in charge of the cousins that would follow, instead of dealing with Marie and his brothers. He is very generous and loves talking sports and movies with his Uncle Dino. Kevin and his wife Shyrene have a beautiful daughter, Ariella, who just turned one this week.

Paulina

Nancy and Frank’s oldest child is Paulina, my goddaughter, and my special bond! She not only is a nurse practitioner and educator, she also works with her sister choreographing dance for the high school. Paulina is a beautiful soul, very thoughtful and always thinks of others first. She has a boyfriend Chris. He is the “NEW GUY” Chris is still on the family trial period. We are running background checks on him because he has been telling us that he works from home and we do not know what that means. The good news is, he is my pen pal!

Frankie

Frankie, known as DJ Frankie Fresh, yes ladies, he is currently single and is working on his CPA. He loves the White Sox, beef jerky and the music of Yanni. Frankie is always the last call on my birthday and although he does not say much, he is an excellent listener, probably because he has two sisters and his mother. I love you, Frankie.

Angelina

The youngest, prettiest and the wisest of the group (I think she wrote this). She is kind and considerate and always seems to know when to send you a friendly text to pick up your day. Angelina is a recreational therapist, and her disposition is perfect for the field that she works in. Angelina is very passionate about her patients and promised me Netflix and Aurelios pizza next week.

Paula
Paula and Anthony are watching with their two boys, Oliver and Elliott. Paula finds a way to keep us updated with pictures and videos of the boys. Paula is also a nurse with her master’s and working on her PhD, an educator as well. She is known for her humor and quick wit; hold on, that was still about Paulina…The two of them are bff’s and both even funnier when they are together.

Anna

My Anna Banana, she cried the first two years of her life. We thought it was because she was born breach, but I think it was because she found out who her father was. Anna has her master’s and teaches special needs children. Also, my goddaughter, Anna has a pure heart and writes beautiful birthday cards. She also has a boyfriend, Dave Something or another; we are still doing background checks on him as well.

As you can tell, we are a very close family, and we are very blessed.

Jimmy Valvano said you should do three things every day. You should laugh, you should cry, and you should submerse yourself in deep thought. I do this every day by 9 a.m. because I am living with Celeste during quarantine. This brings me to my parents. My mom Vickie was tough but fair. As the youngest I was, of course, her favorite. We got along like roommates when I was in high school. She was great to my friends from church, the neighborhood and from work. She came from Greece, worked hard, met my father, and had two boys. I get from her my work ethic, compassion, and common sense. I lost her when she was 55; I was just a sophomore in dental school, and I miss her every day.

My father Lou was also tough but reasonable. He could get me to laugh or cry within a three-minute period. He was a smart man with a master’s in chemistry but was able to explain complicated things with everyone. He taught me work ethics and how to fix things around the house. I learned a lot from him and still remember what he taught me, even though I lost him when I was 13; he was only 46. My father’s lessons are still relevant to me today and I use them often. He taught me how to be objective and always look at both sides. Two of my dad’s favorite things to say to me were, “The worst thing in life is wasted talent”and “A C student is an A student who doesn’t study”. I miss them both, more now than ever.

You’ve heard of the song "Over the Rainbow," which brings me to the scarecrows.

Scarecrows are the people you meet first along your journey, like Dorothy did in The Wizard of Oz. Here are a few of mine.

I started my career in Villa Park because of the faith of two men. Rick Battistoni and his late dad, Jack, spoke on my behalf without ever meeting me. It was because of these two guys that I got my one and only job interview in dentistry. I was hired based on their recommendation, and I am eternally grateful for this.

So, when I started my dental career in 1986 in Villa Park, I met two dentists that would change my life forever.

The first was Mark Wolf, an oral surgeon and gentleman beyond belief. We went out for Chinese food the first month I started working, and we remain friends to this day. A Greek guy and a Jewish guy go to a Chinese restaurant. . . sounds like a joke, but it’s the beginning of a great story. Mark never refused to see any of my patients and on a last-minute notice; he would see everyone. He has always treated my family like his own. His son, Rob, is there now along with Tony Dohse, who follow Mark’s example; we remain close. I will always remember Mark for his kindness, thoughtfulness and sense of humor when I needed a friend most.

Jim Gianakakis, who is a good-looking Greek man, which I know is redundant, is an endodontist extraordinaire and has become a true friend, who not only sees my patients but treats me as well. His kind and gentle ways make him perfect for what he does. I always say that Jimmy has the disposition of an air traffic controller, and he always puts his patients at ease. Jimmy has always been there for me along with Jeff Hembrough (another classmate); they have shown that it’s more than just Oakbrook Endodontics, where our motto is “EVERY TOOTH HAS 4 CANALS.” Even the front ones!

The only problem with Jimmy and Mark is that when you have an endodontist and oral surgeon covering for you while you are away at a meeting, it is likely that when you come back, the tooth is either gone or has a root canal, even if it’s on a buccal pit. I love you both and will never forget your kindness.

John Gerding has a special place in my heart because I was his general chairman for the 2012 Midwinter Meeting. John inspired me enough that I wanted to become more involved with CDS leadership. John is in a category of his own. We really bonded as we traveled from branch to branch, which is what I will miss the most this year with Gene Romo. Promoting the MWM together was one of the highlights of being general chairman. We spent a lot of time in the car talking communication, which is everything. Congratulations John and Todd Cubbon, both past presidents of CDS, now being celebrated as Jubilarians. George and Maria – How do I possibly begin to thank the woman who cooked all my meals this year. Maria, thank you! I do not know how to begin to thank these two people. Jim Valvano also said that God must have loved ordinary people because he made so many of us. Every day, EVERY SINGLE DAY, ordinary people do extraordinary things. George and Maria are anything but ordinary. Every day during the shutdown at 4:45 p.m., George showed up with a home-cooked meal. EVERY DAY, EVERY SINGLE DAY! No off days, no excuses, just great food and sorry George, just average service (LOL). Their generosity and kindness are unbelievable. Celeste always takes credit for meeting them first, but that’s ok, because as my brother and sister, they like me more. If you only meet two people like this in your life, you are very fortunate. Maria and George are a blessing and have ALWAYS been there for us. I will always thank God for the blessing we have with these two amazing people. George and I also share one major thing in common, our office managers (our wives) always think they are right! What’s nice about Maria is, you also get Mimma, Sylvia, and Laura, the youngest, my favorite, who love us and treat us the same as family. Chad and Rehka Gehani, what can I say about the man who showed us courage, strength and leadership during this past year as our ADA president. He needed all of that just because he is married to Rekha. Chad and Rekha Gehani are examples of what great people can do when put into difficult circumstances. They will forever be remembered for what they did during this time, more than the time itself. They both have been there for Celeste and me along the way. They proved that you can still lead and have a big heart. I will cherish the laughs and friendship forever. Chad also introduced us to Cesar Sabates, our new president-elect of the ADA, who also has a big heart and is all class! We keep meeting wonderful people along the way just like Dorothy did; it’s not a coincidence!

George Seline was my best friend and neighbor growing up in Homewood. George and his family were there before and after I lost my father. They taught me what good neighbors were all about. Don, Betty, Dawn, George and Beth. Every time my mother cooked or baked, the first batch went next door and vice versa. Later we became even closer when George married Liz Slavin, daughter of a CDS past president and friend, Bill Slavin. So now when I see Bill, he is nice to me because he says we are related in some weird Greek way. I will always be thankful for our friendship. Our lives growing up were like the movie the Sandlot. We played baseball every day. I often wonder how much texting we would have done if we had cell phones back then. After we moved out, I thought you were only allowed one set of good neighbors in your life until we met Amy and Dave, who moved two doors down from us. I never knew how much I needed them, until we met. I thank God every day for our friendship, as that is one of my most prized possessions.

Johnny Manta is my best friend from church; we met over 50 years ago and were altar boys and played basketball together for years. I still get the occasional text of why I didn’t pass him the ball more, so I just don’t respond! John was from Flossmoor and introduced me to his friends, which made the transition to high school much easier. His birthday is January 3, so he got his driver’s license first and would drive from three towns away to pick me up for practice. Now that I think about it, maybe I should have passed the ball. His words of advice to me then and now are still the same and are from Mick Jagger “You can’t always get what you want but sometimes you get what you need.” Thank you Mooch, I love you!

Perry Tuneberg, what can I possibly say about Perry Tuneberg that he hasn’t told me to say already. I met him early in my organized dentistry career. He told me then, constantly, that he was the youngest president ever of ISDS! He still tells me that today. I want to tell you how long I have known him in years and how long we have been bff’s. But I will tell you this story to help you understand our relationship.

At the ISDS functions in Springfield, Perry and I used to sit at tables by ourselves because we really didn’t like having other people around (LOL). One time we had to sit with a large group. They served the salads and he looked at me and I looked at him. I took his tomatoes, and he took my onions. I took his radishes; he took my olives. We went back and forth for about a minute or so until we realized our salads were perfect. It was at that time that somebody across the table from us asked: “How long have you two been married?” Perry looked at me, and I looked at him. He said, “How long have you been ugly?” (LOL) I knew back then we were friends for life! Besides that, he is also very generous, thoughtful, and sometimes, YES. . . even funny. We have always been a team in Springfield and have been banned from certain establishments. I will always remember the kindness he has shown me over the years. He is a distinguished member of the dental society and a Hall of Fame Friend. His wife and our friend Dawn is very fortunate; he tells her this daily. Dawn is also a quiet force and a true friend! Thank you Perry for the ride, but we are not done yet! Another wonderful person I met along the way was Nicole Beck Rogers. I met her at Midwestern University, the first day I started teaching. I walked into the room with 150 students and 15 instructors and did not have a clue. She saw me standing there and said: “Just stand over here and pretend like you know what you are doing.” I said to myself, I’ve been doing that for years!!Nicole was the little sister and moral compass that I never knew I needed. She was always very kind and thoughtful. We sat next to each other in lecture hall and talked about how easy the students had it. She would show me pictures on her phone of her family, especially her two boys. It was four years later when we received the horrible news that her son Jack Beck Rogers had passed at 19 months. Although I never met him, he has been a major influence on how I view my life. He has taught me to appreciate every single day and to love unconditionally. I think of him daily as his Mass card is in the visor of my car. It serves as a reminder to appreciate what you have. I can’t explain why he is gone, but there has to be a reason why he was here for such a short time. He had an impact on all of us. It’s hard to imagine why such a good family has to go through that. I feel connected with Jack and still think about his presence on this earth.

Speaking of losses, I have to mention our friend and classmate, Loren Feldner. I met Loren right out of high school at Loyola undergrad. I knew he was special, even then. Once in dental school, he handled all the political things nobody else wanted to do. His energy and enthusiasm are deeply missed. Loren was one of a kind and nobody can replace him.

Chuck DiFranco was another great loss this year. He was an amazing surgeon but a better family man and friend you could not find. My favorite Chuck story is that he invited Celeste and I a few years back to the Arcolian Christmas Party. It was a great night. Chuck sang, we laughed and took pictures with his entire family. We were all sitting at the table holding hands during the prayer and Chuck leaned over and told me that Sam Cascio (who was saying the prayer) was 91. I whispered back in Chuck’s ear and said: “I know Chuck, he was 90 when he started the prayer.” There was never a loss for words or laughs when we were together with Chuck and Kim. Chuck had a way of making everyone feel loved and special and always had a great story to share. We miss him dearly and feel the loss of a man who is singing for the angels.

And finally, my baseball buddy Dennis Shinbori from San Francisco I met later in life, but he was one of those people that I had known forever. Every time we saw each other, he had Ernie Banks cards for me, and I had Willie Mays cards for him. We would talk about baseball and cards and how our wives didn’t really understand our obsession. He was a kind soul, and everybody knew him and loved him. I would get texts from him late at night because he was on the West Coast. He was so kind that he sent me a picture of him and his son at Game 4 in San Francisco in 2016 vs the Cubs. Dennis was all class. I miss him only when I think of baseball, which is all the time. Dennis was a man whose heart was larger than life.

Mark Hyman, a friend of mine and life coach, often says that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

My Mentors: As I was explaining to my father -n-law, I got the calling to be a dentist at the age of 10. By the time I was in high school, I was known as Dino the Dentist. I only applied to Loyola because I knew that’s where I wanted to go to dental school. These are the three people I need to thank for that. Mike Videka was our family dentist and all-around great guy. He was one of a kind and gentle and always encouraging about school. He would stay late for appointments after my father died to see our family because my mom had to work. His thoughtfulness and personality are why I am doing this today. He showed me at an early age that it wasn’t just about the teeth.

Tom Manolis was the BEST Greek dentist EVER! Just ask him! The man had the golden hands of his era. His great personality and humor were also an inspiration for me becoming a dentist. He gave me encouragement and just like Dr. Videka, his son Todd is also a dentist. Last but not least, Chris Niarkos from church. The man was so loved and respected by all. I saw how people responded to him when he walked into a room. Everyone at church loved him and, throughout high school, he always took me to lunch and mentored me at the office. He told me never to give up and always remember that kindness is the most important thing to give to your patients. He stepped in to guide me on this path. His twin daughters also became hygienists, which shows you the love and heart this family had for our profession. I learned a lot on my journey to dentistry with these mentors in my life, which taught me to think outside the mouth and inside the heart!

Shouvik: I met Shouvik halfway through his undergrad years at University of Illinois. It’s amazing how you think you are teaching someone something and you end up learning more about yourself. My time with Shouvik was an experience I will never forget. The more I tried to guide him, the more he made me want to mentor him. Shouvik brought back memories of my great mentors and reignited my passion to share my experiences, just as my mentors did with me. I am extremely proud of how hard he has worked to become an oral surgeon and how he puts his heart into everything he does. Shouvik showed me that being a mentor works both ways. I have been very blessed in life to be able to work with students and help teach them to reach their goals. I constantly get reminded of how much I love our profession seeing it through the eyes of the next generation. Thank you Shouvik!

And with that being shared with you, let me remind you that CDS has a great mentorship program. In this virtual world, sometimes just a phone call or text can help a student get through midterms. We also want to see our new dentists get involved so they can bring a fresh new perspective while honoring the previous traditions. If you ask those of us who are involved, you will hear stories about that one person who brought you to your first meeting. For me, it started with going to a West Suburban Branch meeting at Sharko’s in Villa Park; that is where my journey in organized dentistry began. That is when the house fell on the witch! It is with my involvement in organized dentistry that I have met some of the greatest people from all over the world. We need to connect and communicate not only with our own circle of friends but reach out to the next generation and guide them with the same passion that was bestowed upon us with our mentors. And for our younger colleagues, pick up the phone and call one of our mature members, introduce yourself and ask them how you can get involved. Learn about your future.

This could be YOU! I never thought when I was sitting out there, I could be standing up here today. I thank God every day for this opportunity to be your CDS 2021 president!

We are all taught the skills in dental school, but it is our responsibility to teach you what you didn’t learn in school. As stewards of the profession, we need to make sure that we help those who follow us. It is not just about dentistry, it’s about the personal relationships that you form in your dental career. Understand that dentistry is not only done with your hands but with your heart.

In this virtual world, we tend to lose touch, so communication now is more important than ever. We have been working with our Communications Department this past year to implement the texting feature for the CDS membership. Now more than ever we need to stay connected! So, at this time, I am going to ask all of you who have not signed up yet, to get out your phones and text DENTAL to 69922. The operators are waiting to receive your text! Let’s give the “my pillow guy” a run for his money. Again, text Dental to 69922! Speaking of texts, I received a text from a friend of mine this week, Frank Licari. Frank and I went to undergrad together. He is now the dean of the dental school in Utah. Frank was planning on being here today but for obvious reasons, like all of you, could not attend. It is through organized dentistry that we have had the opportunities to travel to different meetings all over the world.

Every year, I looked forward to the ADA meetings because I knew that Frank would be there, and we would get caught up again. The relationships that we make on our journey last a lifetime. Frank reminded me that he was at my 18th birthday party, but I will have to take his word for it. It was great to talk with him this week and hopefully we can all look forward to seeing each other in person. The Zoom platform is not flattering for me since I am taller and thinner than what you are looking at right now. Speaking of college, I can’t help but remember my buddy Rich Osmanski, probably because he calls me every week. Oz and I pledged the delts together in spring of ‘79 and we were inseparable. He has always been the friend who is there for you. He is the hand that holds you up when you most need it. Dental school brought me many challenges at Loyola, but our class of ‘86 is legendary. We had something special! Our class was very involved and produced some major talent.

We had Loren Feldner, Phil Fijal, Don Kipper, Terri Tiersky, Joe Sperlazzo, Mary Ann Hollis, Michelle Pinkerton, Malu Simon, Gary Balis, Vesna Sutter and the infamous John Green, who also writes for the CDS Review. He is a dentist and a lawyer. John has allowed me to mentor his son, John Jr., who will be graduating in 2021. Things are looking up already! John Sr. said it was ok for me to mentor him because he might actually listen to me.

We had a great class, but our instructors were even better. We had Keith Suchy and Tom Sullivan as row instructors. We had Big Al Kleszynski and Frank Maggio as clinical instructors, and I had Jim Maragos and Pete Hasiakos, who taught me about ethnic pride. But the best advice I received in dental school was from Dean Politis who taught me the secret of Perio in one minute. He told me in my senior year to forget everything I learned in the last four years and just remember this. . . First the patients get gingivitis, then they get periodontitis, and then you call Dean Politis. I will always be thankful for my instructors at Loyola. It was a big family, and there was a lot of love and passion flowing through the halls!

I was told that because this is virtual I could take up to three hours, and speaking of virtual, registration is open for our first all-virtual Midwinter Meeting.

Please make sure to register and check out the great speakers and exhibitors that will be showcased. I want to thank my General Chair Gene Romo and Program Chair Cheryl Mora. It has certainly been a challenge with this new format, but they are working tirelessly with our CDS staff to bring us the first all-virtual Midwinter Meeting that will set the standard once again. I am so grateful for their efforts and friendship and the fact that they never lost focus or enthusiasm throughout this process. I want to thank Adam Tarr, our graphic artist who designed our logo Heart of Dentistry with the hand. He is a very talented young man who spent hours with us on the phone creating our vision. Our newest friend from the Oak Brook Hilton Hotel Mike Teed has worked so hard to accommodate our needs.

I thank my new AV friends from PSAV Sam, Dan and Jacob for their flexibility and attention to detail has been incredible in helping us achieve our vision with all the adjustments. When I talk about communicating, Sam set a new standard with PSAV. His wife was in labor during a lot of our discussions, and Sam still managed to send us an email from the delivery room. Baby Olivia will always have a special place in our hearts.

I want to thank Alice for installing us. You are a dear friend, and your friendship means the world to us.

I want to welcome the incoming board; I am looking forward to a fresh start. To the three outgoing directors, I will miss two of you. To my friends at the ADA, Chad, Cesar, and the Audit Committee, thank you. The ISDS and staff, the CDS and their tireless staff and also today for Lenny and Celeste for putting the video presentation together. I want to thank the West Suburban Dental Society, the Independent Dental Organization, and the Hellenic American Dental Society. I would also like to thank my family at Hatchell and Associates for all my HVAC needs (that is my brother-in-law). I want to thank Lee Ann Marie Productions for her encouragement and guidance in cutting my speech in half. We hope that we can work together in the future.

To Sgt. Gered C.Jackson, our nephew, for saying the Pledge of Allegiance today and for serving our country.

Also, Andy Weintraub from Denture Design who also picks up cases on the weekends and accommodates our dental schedule.

Through our travels and scouting the meetings, we have made some great friendships, From Ohio: Suzy, Nan, Terra, Bruce, and Mark, we have never been treated better than when we were in Ohio.

Stafford from San Francisco, Shannan from Minnesota, and Daisy and Megan from Marble Falls.

Wisconsin- Shari and Company from the Breakfast Club, we will miss breakfast this year. My friends from New York, Toronto, and Hinman in Atlanta – who deep-fry everything.

A big thank you, to all my patients who have been getting rescheduled due to extra meetings; I personally thank you for your loyalty during these past years of my involvement with organized dentistry. We are so blessed with the best patients who have become part of our family. Going to work and being able to see you is the best part of our day!

I would also like to thank the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press. I have always wanted to say that! Patients, family, friends, and colleagues have been asking me, what qualities do you need to become a CDS president. After much thought over the last year, I decided that you need a combination of qualities to become a CDS president. I would want to have the wisdom of a Wally Lamacki, the longevity of a Sam Cascio, the love of a Joe Discipio, the humility of a Perry Tuneberg, the diplomacy of a Denny Manning, the tenacity of a Tricia Drummond, the generosity of a George Zehak, the compassion of a Keith Dickey, the kindness of a John Gerding, the efficiency of a Barry Howell, the promptness of a Terri Tiersky, the niceness of a Brian Soltys, the friendliness of a Al Kleszynski, the calmness of a Terri Barnfield, the ethnic pride of a John Parzakonis, the perseverance of a Chris Larson, the sense of family of a Bill Slavin, the passion of a John Williams, the faithfulness of a Todd Cubbon, the understanding of a Mike Higgins, the determination of a Ron Testa, the strength of a Daryl Beard, the foresight of Leo Finley, the humor of a Jeff Socher, the debate qualities of a Keith Suchy, the drive of a John Fredricksen, the financial smarts of a Tony Venezia, the vision of a Davey Fulton Jr., the dedication of a Frank Maggio, the leadership of a Phil Fijal, the class of a Dave Fulton Sr., the historical aspects of a Joe Unger and, of course, every single quality of a Joe Hagenbruch.

Each of these past presidents has had an impact on me throughout the years. I would like to take these qualities with me as I start this new journey into 2021 as your CDS President. As I will be asking our membership what Heart of Dentistry means to them, I think about these past presidents who together define Heart of Dentistry for me.

Before we move on, I forgot the page about my wife Celeste. I wrote it because I didn’t want her to type it.

Celeste told me not to talk about her too much, and for that matter, not at all. But I have to! This journey would not be the same without her. We have worked together for 29 years but not in the same room. We respect each other’s space and opinions. Celeste lives and dies by her principles. We don’t always agree but that is ok, our situation works for us. I love her, and Mickey and Buddy as well. The four of make it work together. It is always an experience for us because we are always looking for rainbows. After all my research on the Wizard of Oz, I have found out that Celeste is the one who is behind the curtain. I truly believe that I am here at this time for a reason.

I am blessed, honored and humbled to be in this position to serve our CDS membership.

I will leave you with these words from Herman Munster who said to his son Eddy, also the same thing that my father pretty much said to me every day:

“The lesson I want you to learn is that it doesn’t matter what you look like. You could be tall or short, fat or thin, ugly or handsome, black, yellow or white. . . It doesn’t matter! What does matter is, the size of your heart and the strength of your character!”

I appreciate you spending your afternoon with us today and sharing this experience with us.

I pray for you and your family’s health and safety during these times and ask that God bless the Chicago Dental Society and God bless the United States of America!

Thank You.

Dr. Dino
Dean P. Nicholas, DDS
2021 Chicago Dental Society President