It is with great sadness that I inform you all of the passing of an extremely talented and well-respected orthodontist and the original founder of our practice. My friend and mentor, Dr. Paul O. Austin, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.
I first came to Pensacola in 2012, at the time Dr. Austin was not looking for a partner. While some others told me I would never make it in Pensacola, Dr. Austin encouraged me. He believed in me and gave me support and courage to start my career here.
Dr. Austin and I stayed in touch and would have lunch occasionally. I visited his office a number of times during that period. He always invited me in and spent as much time with me as I wanted. He shared so much insight with me. We would go over orthodontic cases together, and something that really stood out to me was that he would always talk about his PATIENTS, not just about their teeth. He would tell me about their families, what school they went to, even what sports they played. He remembered EVERYBODY because he CARED.
About a year later, I got a call from Dr. Austin. He had received the bad news of his diagnosis and was ready to bring me into the practice. As I was already working at another practice at the time, I was not able to come in and work full time right away. Thankfully, we had help from some fantastic orthodontists to help us make it through this period. Drs. Peter Bayer, Sal Cabassa, Daniel Rentz, Randy Rigsby, and Steven Trawick would come into our office and fill in for an interim period before I could start full time. I can’t thank these guys enough for keeping things together for our patients, our staff, and for me. I know Dr. Austin shared that appreciation.
I had the pleasure of working alongside Dr. Austin for two years. What I learned from him during those two years was immeasurable. I owe a large part of my career and success, both current and future, to his teaching and guidance. As the practice transitioned from his ownership to mine, he supported me every step of the way. He saw his practice go through a number of changes, and while most previous owners would struggle with change, he always focused on the positive. Oftentimes, the staff and patients would catch him dancing in the clinical area, and he wouldn’t stop once he was caught! He would just laugh and keep going!
He made a difference in the lives of our patients. He gave them beautiful smiles, took interest in their interests, and genuinely cared for them. He made a difference in the lives of our staff. He gave them opportunities, showed fairness and compassion, and treated them like family. He made a difference in my life that words cannot describe. I can only say that because of Dr. Austin, Leah and I are truly living a life better then we could’ve ever envisioned. We live in an amazing place, surrounded by remarkable people, and we feel so fortunate to be a part of this great community.
Dr. Austin, I know you are making people smile and changing lives in Heaven. Don’t stop dancing. I will forever miss you buddy.