Second retirement party set for Sequim dentist

Johnson known for holistic care of patients

SEQUIM — For a longtime Sequim dentist, it’s time to call it a career — again.

Patients locally and out of town are expected to help Dr. Runar Johnson, DDS. now in his 80s, celebrate his second retirement, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today at Eastern Hills Community Church, 91 Savannah Lane, Sequim.

Johnson is well-known both in Sequim and beyond for his holistic approach to his patents’ care, notes Bonnie Tollefson, who worked on and off for Johnson for about 30 years — including as a dental assistant and as office manager.

At age 72, Johnson — who had retired from a general dentistry career — returned to school to become a board-certified naturopathic physician.

“He was taking out mercury fillings and … would work with supplements that general dentists don’t get into,” Tollefson noted.

Johnson also invented a device that helped patients get aligned and help reduce pain not just in their mouth but throughout the body, Tollefson said.

Word of mouth spread, she said, and anywhere between one-third to half of the patients that Johnson would treat were not local.

She said this weekend there are patients coming from two or three hours away to help Johnson celebrate his second retirement.

Tollefson said Johnson was wonderful to work with and for.

“When you work for a company or a small place, it always starts with the boss,” she said. “The generosity, the kindness, the giving — this is the epitome of Dr. Johnson.”

She recalled an instance when the staff was closing up for the day, and a young man stopped in.

“Come on back,” Johnson said, and then performed a tooth extraction.

“You know you’re never going to get paid for that,” Tollefson recalled telling her boss, who replied, “Yeah, I know.”

Tollefson said the caring Johnson showed his patients spread out through the staff.

“There was a lot of that caring spirit in the office,” she said. “Coming into a space, people have a fear, [but the caring], it just kind of trickled down from him.”

That kind of care, Tollefson said, prodded Johnson’s second career that required the man in his early 70s to go back to school. Every couple of months he had to go east to New Jersey for degree requirements, she said..

“It took him a couple of years,” Tollefson said. “He loved it that much.”

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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