Second Time’s a Charm

Ashworth’s May 31 departure from the general dentistry department is not his first try at retirement
March 2nd, 2012
Ashworth Retieres

Dr. Stan Ashworth (right) celebrated his retirement from the general dentistry department May 31. During his reception, he shook hands with fellow retiree Dr. Richard Ceen from orthodontics. — Media Resources/Steven Doll

After practicing dentistry for nearly 30 years, Dr. Stan Ashworth was ready to retire. Or so he thought. That was back in 1999. More than 12 years later, this 1971 alumnus celebrates his second retirement. But can he stay away from his alma mater for good?

Judging from how Ashworth warmly recalls his transition from a life of golf and relaxation in East Texas to working four days a week in Dallas as a D4 group leader, it’s hard to tell.

“I just thought I was going to play golf all the time,” Ashworth says of his initial intentions for retirement. And that’s exactly what he did. But after a year of the sport, he got bored.

Luckily, a good friend, Dr. Hershall Leinneweber ’71, had a suggestion for how Ashworth could spend his time.

“He talked me into coming up here and working,” says Ashworth, associate professor in general dentistry. “I was only going to work one day a week. I had a good golf handicap, and I didn’t want to lose it.”

Ashworth figured he’d give the gig a try. He’d be working with dental students in the clinic, which was a natural transition for someone who had run his own practice for nearly three decades.

“I had a lot of fun,” Ashworth says. “The group of kids I was working with wanted me to be their group leader. I was thinking, I’ll just do it with this group, and when they’re gone, I’ll just go back to my other life. And I never did.”

Since then, Ashworth has worked almost exclusively as a D4 group leader.

Out of all of his memories from the past 12 years at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry, there’s probably only one he doesn’t like: commencement.

“When the time would come for them to graduate and for us to shift and work with another group, I would get kind of depressed, because I felt like once they’re gone, they’re gone,” Ashworth says. “Those students don’t realize it, but they spend every day with those classmates working toward something. When they walk across the stage at the Meyerson, they will never be together again.

“This has been a wonderful extension in my life, these past 12 years.”

—Dr. Stan Ashworth

After two or three years, it became a challenge for him to start with each new group.

“But usually by the end of summer the bond had been created, and I got to have a new little family I worked with,” Ashworth says.

On the day before his retirement reception, the corkboard above his desk is completely empty, whereas just days before it was covered in photos, cards and keepsakes from students.

“The satisfaction I got from this and the feedback from the students was worth more than I could ever have paid money for. They’re really appreciative of someone being here to help them,” Ashworth says of his work in the clinic with D4s. “They don’t ever get tested here on the stuff I tell them, but they do in real life.”

This time around, Ashworth has a few more things in mind for retirement than just working on his golf swing. The very next day, he was to attend a retirement party his daughters planned, with upwards of 40 close friends and family members.

Come fall, there will be high school football games in Frisco, Texas, rooting for his oldest grandson, a quarterback. Ashworth plans to go to all the games, that is, when he’s not spending time with his other grown children, two grandsons and wife.

And while plans are still up in the air, Ashworth says he looks forward to more world travels with his best friend from high school, a Swedish marine biologist. Among their past adventures have been month-long stints in Africa and Russia, all with the good-natured approval of their wives, of course.

Ashworth glances at the wall of framed photos and certificates — the only items left in the office. Taking them down is perhaps his one official job duty left.

“I was going through my stuff and throwing things out the other day, and I came across these thank you notes from students,” Ashworth says. “The students have been so nice and so appreciative and have sent me emails, cards and letters after they’ve gone. The things that they’ve sent have always touched me.

“It got me thinking, I am so glad I did this,” he says. “This has been a wonderful extension in my life, these past 12 years.”

— Jennifer Fuentes