25 years of service: Bushays close Holiday Island dental practice
Dr. Terry Bushay has the gift of gab. Sitting in an oversized red chair in his Holiday Island office — featuring a lobby decked out in Arkansas Razorbacks memorabilia, fresh flowers and other touches of home — he proves he’s as self-aware as he is talkative.
“As you can tell, I like the sound of my own voice,” he laughs. “And here I’ve got somebody with their mouth open, they can’t talk and it’s just me. What better job can I ask for?”
Terry and Rosemary Bushay moved to Holiday Island in January 1996, establishing a dental practice where he treated the patients and she managed the office. Located on Park Drive, the practice was one of the longest-operating businesses in the Holiday Island Shopping Center. The Bushays retired from their practice at the end of August, serving the community for more than 25 years.
Growing up in Huntsville, Terry said he never imagined he’d end up back in Arkansas after moving out of state. The state kept pulling him back, Terry said. He met Rosemary in high school and they never dated. In fact, Rosemary dated Terry’s friend. On their first date, Rosemary remembered, they had lunch with Terry.
“That was it for me. I was like, ‘OK, you know, forget John,’ ” Rosemary said. “I was 15 and he was 16, so we didn’t date. We were friends. He moved to California, came back for a visit and told me I was in love with him.”
“And she believed it,” Terry said.
“And 35 years later, here we are,” Rosemary said.
They married two years into Terry’s undergraduate studies, when Rosemary worked at a dental office. That was all part of the plan, Rosemary said: She would learn how the office worked, he would finish dental school and they would open a practice together. Terry worked for an office in Fayetteville before they decided to start a practice in Holiday Island.
“When we moved here, immediately, we had business,” Terry said. “This place is like a vacuum. There are no dentists here.”
When they first set up shop, Terry remembered, the office was surrounded by fields and dirt roads. He and Rosemary were just getting their feet wet, having never run a business before.
“You don’t just go out and hang up a sign and say, ‘Hey, come to me,’ and get away with that very often,” Terry said. “I naively believed it would work, and it did.”
Everything is different today, Terry said. The water tower is painted, the roads have been paved and the field of dentistry has changed many times over.
“Extractions, they’re pretty much still the same, but root canals, orthodontics, crowns, bridges, partials, dentures … everything else has changed,” Terry said.
One thing that’s never changed is his attitude. The Bushays have always strived to treat each and every patient with respect and kindness.
“I hate that philosophy about shaming people, because you haven’t walked a mile in their shoes,” Terry said. “Dentists should be understanding about how you got to this point.”
He continued, “You can be critical of everybody that comes in here. You can find some fault … but you don’t want to dwell on that. You want to encourage them.”
Terry said he doesn’t believe in doing dental work unless it’s necessary.
“Everything we do is manmade and not by nature, so if I cannot do any treatment and help you alleviate whatever issues you’re having, that’s always the best,” Terry said.
He decided in the 11th grade that he would become a dentist, Terry said, and he was laser-focused on that goal until he finished dental school. That’s when he saw the complexities of dentistry, Terry said, and fell deeper in love with the occupation.
“If you take a tooth and you hand it to a dental student, they know exactly what to do with that tooth,” Terry said. “But it’s not just a tooth. It’s a tooth wrapped in a patient. You have to consider the entire person.”
Employees Chantae Kelley, Lindsey Doss and Anabel Trujillo said they are going to miss working with the Bushays. They see Terry and Rosemary as their mom and dad, Trujillo said.
So what does retirement look like for the Bushays? Rosemary said they’ll travel a lot more and maybe take one of those road trips that were always too inconvenient. Terry said he’ll remain involved with the Holiday Island Rotary Club, one of his favorite organizations in the community.
“I’ll still do good stuff for people, just not for pay,” Terry said. “So what? I haven’t been motivated by money my whole career. It only came because it’s part of this job I love.”