Funny sometimes how you can learn so much from some of your worst teachers.
That's what happened to Dr. Charles Hall, a 74-year-old retired pediatric dentist who never stopped working.
When asked why he chose to be a children's dentist rather than going into general dentistry, he laughed and told again a story he's told so often about that bad teacher.
It was when Hall was in dental school in the early 1960s. An instructor was working with a child who was terrified and, consequently, screaming.
"He picked him up, called him a so-and-so, threw him down into the chair, tied him up and said, 'We're going to do this,' " Hall recalled.
"At that point, I thought there had to be a better way," Hall said. "That really got me interested in children's dentistry."
And that interest has yet to fade.
Hall said he retired "four or five years ago," but when you're 74 years old and still sometimes see as many as 75 patients in a day, you don't spend much time looking at the calendar.
As for listing his accomplishments, well, how much room is in the newspaper today?
Hall founded and volunteers as the dental director for HEALS, which offers health services to children in schools. The dental program now bears his name.
He is the state leader for the Head Start Dental Home Initiative, which reaches out to provide comprehensive dental care for children in low-income homes.
And he recently received the prestigious Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry - only the 16th time in 63 years such an award has been bestowed.
"He doesn't seem to slow down at all," said Connie Carnes, executive director of HEALS. "He works all the time.
"He's tireless in his work with children - especially underprivileged children that probably wouldn't have services."
But Hall sees his volunteer work as sort of paying a debt.
"It's a lot of self-satisfaction, a lot of giving back to a profession that's been good to me," he said.
When he's not volunteering, you may find Hall at Lake Guntersville spending time with his family and manning the grill - ribs, he said, are his specialty.
Still, with the volunteer work he does for HEALS and the Head Start Dental Home Initiative and dental surgeries at Huntsville Hospital, that doesn't fall into a stereotypical retirement.
So why keep working, er, volunteering?
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