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Sacrey & Sacrey marks 50 years of dentistry in Geneva

'He would do everything he could to save a tooth'

GENEVA – When Dr. James Sacrey first came to Geneva in 1969, he met with a dentist who was retiring, with the intent to buy his practice.

“Dr. Sacrey knew this was his family’s future home when he met Dr. Davis and happened to see the Swedish Days Parade,” said his daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Sacrey, who now runs the practice. “He fell in love with the community and was eager to be involved. Dr. Sacrey assumed the practice of Richard Davis.”

Sacrey & Sacrey Dentistry, at 328 Anderson Blvd., Geneva is marking 50 years of continuous service this year, Elizabeth Sacrey said.

“We are going to plan a 50-year celebration in the late spring or early summer with cake, with the location to be decided,” Elizabeth Sacrey said.

The name is pronounced like it rhymes with "bakery," she said.

James Sacrey, 80, who still lives in Geneva, has seen “tens of thousands of patients” over the years, Elizabeth Sacrey said.

“He always thought of his patients as family and treated them as such,” Elizabeth Sacrey said.

Elizabeth Sacrey joined the practice in 1998, and worked with her father for 15 years.

Her father began working fewer hours, but kept coming in to talk about major cases, implants and dentures, she said.

“When he stopped seeing patients – well, we never had a party because there was never really a last day,” Elizabeth Sacrey said. “There was nothing like, ‘This is the last one.’ We can’t really pin down a date.”

The family – the dentist, his wife, Mollie, and three daughters – moved from Chicago to St. Charles and then to Geneva where they lived ever since, she said. Three daughters, including Elizabeth Sacrey, still live in Geneva.

As the fourth daughter, when Elizabeth Sacrey says she was born and raised in Geneva, she means it: She was born at the old Geneva Community Hospital, on Father’s Day and during Swedish Days.

The late Weldon Johnson, known as Mr. Geneva, introduced the new dentist to the Geneva Jaycees and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, she said.

James Sacrey also joined the Geneva Lions, where he has been a member for 40 years. He was known for working the brat booth during Swedish Days, his daughter said.

James Sacrey was among the founding members of the dental department at Geneva Community Hospital, Elizabeth Sacrey said. The department has since transitioned when it became Delnor Community Hospital.

James Sacrey had been an intern in the Public Health Service as a dentist where he had done many extractions, his daughter said.

“The big thing when he came to Geneva was, he wanted to save teeth … not extract teeth,” Elizabeth Sacrey said. “He would do everything he could to save a tooth. Even if a tooth broke off at the gum line, he would put a filling on top to keep it. Because when you pull out the roots, then you get accelerated bone loss. Facial bone loss deteriorates your face.”

As he was debating dentistry or medicine as a career, Elizabeth Sacrey said her father’s professor asked what his hobby was.

“He did model shipbuilding,” Elizabeth Sacrey said. “The professor said, ‘You should go into dentistry. You like little details.’”

And it was true, as James Sacrey, “the tooth saver” began studying the temporal and mandibular joints before it was popular, she said.

“That is the foundation of your bite, how your teeth come together,” Elizabeth Sacrey said.

If a patient had a toothache, another dentist might start drilling.

But James Sacrey would consider that maybe the tooth could be reshaped and reduce the need for more dental work, she said.

Elizabeth Sacrey does bite analysis to know how to put in dentures properly.

“It’s all aesthetic, but you have to have function. It won’t last if you don’t have function,” Elizabeth Sacrey said.

Another daughter, Jamie Sacrey has managed the family’s dental office for 25 years.

Longevity seems to run in the practice, as the hygienist has been there 38 years and the head dental assistant has been there 20 years, Elizabeth Sacrey said.

Daughter Jacqueline Sacrey works for a dental company and another daughter, Anne Sacrey Robert, lives outside Boston and is a retail buyer.

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