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Veteran dentist retires, joins Army
Rotary honors Glass on eve of departure
dentistJEN 8686
Richard Glass reflects on receiving the Paul Harris Fellowship Award. - photo by Jennifer Sami
Getting some people to join the Army would be like pulling teeth.

But for Richard Glass, it’s just the next step in life after three decades as a dentist.

Glass, 59, heads to San Antonio next week for training. After that, he will work from Fort Benning near Columbus.

“Whatever the Army needs me to do, that’s what I’ll be doing,” he said. “I most look forward to ... working with the younger dentists and giving them any benefits I can from my experience.”

Because of his age, the third-generation dentist needed to get an age waver to join the Army. The lengthy process worked in Glass’s favor, allowing him to begin a new chapter of his life.

Glass became a dentist in 1976, after graduating from the Medical College of Georgia. The Atlanta native opened his Cumming practice in 1987.

Prior to retiring, Glass merged his practice with Clay Skognes. Cumming Dental Care is now run by Skognes, who also graduated from the Medical College of Georgia.

Leaving the practice and his long-time patients was a difficult decision, but Glass said he had seen too many dentists maintain their practice longer than maybe they should have.

Still, he wasn’t quite ready to completely retire.

“I think I’d just be bored doing nothing,” he said. “The Army offered accountability and structure, and I associate that back to my childhood when

I attended a military school. I found that very appealing.

“I’m thoroughly versed in wearing a uniform and the discipline and structure.”

Glass’ impact in Forsyth County extends past his career. The Roswell resident also served as a Rotarian and eventually became the charter president of the Rotary Club of North Forsyth-400.

Founding member Ken Westray worked alongside Glass, with whom he credits “setting the foundation for the club.”

“He comes up with challenging ideas and makes us reach and improve ourselves,” he said. “I’m really proud of Richard.”

Westray, who served in the Army during the Vietnam War, said he’s concerned about his friend’s safety but glad to see him live out a dream.

“It’s a surprise to see that somebody at this late in his life is going to do something like that,” he said. “I think he’ll do great.

“He’s got a kind and giving heart. He’s got a spirit to do new things. He’s got a spirit of tackling different assignments, and he’s got a wonderful skill and personality in dealing with people.”

During Tuesday’s Rotary meeting, club president Grant Schmeelk presented Glass with the Paul Harris Fellow Award, one of the organization’s highest honors.

Schmeelk later topped it off by asking Glass to be the club’s first honorary member while he’s serving in the Army.

“It’s a big honor for him to be a part of our club, but also for him to move onto the next part of his life,” Schmeelk said. “We can’t wait to have you back, sir.”

Glass said his wife, Debbie, likely will stay in Roswell until he heads to Fort Benning, where she will then join him.

Their three grown children have been supportive of his decision, as has his future son-in-law, who Glass said is “one of the top Army Guard recruiters in Alabama.”

Having gone on various mission trips around the world, Glass said he has no fear about serving overseas.

“I’ve been in dangerous situations on mission trips previously, so I’m not too concerned about it,” he said. “It’s like a different dimension, and who knows where I’ll go.”