Changing of the guard at Appletree Dentistry
Toivo Sepp could be called the Johnny Appleseed of dentistry.
He first started practicing dentistry in King City in 1971 at what became the Bull Mountain Professional Center at 99W and King James before an old farmhouse beckoned.
In 2001, when Sepp was in his late 50s and planning to retire soon, his wife passed away suddenly in her sleep. Along with the shock and sadness of her death, the Bull Mountain Professional Center was going to be sold, and Sepp could not practice there any longer.
Deciding he needed to stay active, Sepp chose to continue to practice but needed to find a new location, which is where the old Lindley farm came in, just north of the location that was being sold.
The farmhouse was built in 1931 and in the late '50s was moved back to its current location as Pacific Highway was being widened. The site had been on the market for some time, and was derelict and overgrown, even to the point off being invisible from Highway 99, according to Sepp.
In 2003, Sepp "rescued" the property by purchasing the acreage and re-purposing the old farmhouse into his new office. Because there were still seven apple trees on the property, Sepp decided to name his new office Appletree Dentistry.
Sepp originally planned to use just a few rooms for his practice; however, because of specific plumbing, electrical and building requirements for a medical facility, the entire building had to be upgraded. This resulted in the farmhouse, despite its rustic appearance, being turned into a Class A medical/dental facility,
"I ran the practice at my own speed," Sepp said. "Most of my patients followed me to the new facility and stayed with me. I have built long-term relationships and have even treated some of the grandchildren of my first patients. It has been interesting, exciting and fulfilling, and I feel blessed to have experienced it."
More recently, after several years of trying to find a suitable dentist to take over the practice so that he could retire, Sepp decided that Aug. 31 of this year would be his last day, regardless.
Out of the blue, Scott Simpson appeared. "He was looking to set up a practice, and what sold me on him is his ability to handle anything that comes through the door," Sepp said. "But what really impressed me was his experience and interest in working with special-needs patients. He is a rare person and will do a fine job."
Assisting him in getting established during the transition, Mary Downer, Appletree's dental assistant and office manager, will continue to serve the patients that she and Sepp grew to know and care for.