A Friendship to Remember

A friendship is something to treasure. Dr. Gary Jones will forever cherish his friendship with Dr. Jerry Beatty. “I was first introduced to him by the Secretary of Oral Surgery at the Medical College of Virginia,” Jones said. “Later, I was in my residency in oral surgery, and I was thinking about joining the Army. Jerry said, ‘Don’t you do it.’”

But Uncle Sam kept calling, and Gary Jones accepted the call.

“I find out that I’m going to be stationed at Fort Bragg,” Jones says,” and the chief of oral surgery at Womack Army Hospital is Jerry Beatty.”

A friendship was born.

“We hit it off right away,” Jones says. “He said, ‘Come and stay with me until you find a place to live.’ We spent a lot of our free time together. And
we were at Womack a lot, and he taught me a lot.”

Beatty, a proud Vietnam veteran, retired in 1997. Jones served out his hitch and found himself working for an oral surgeon in Pinehurst a year later.

“Jerry would come and do big cases with me at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital,” Jones says.

All the while, Beatty was giving thought to opening his own private practice of oral surgery in Fayetteville and did so in 2006, bringing in Jones as his partner at Sandhills Oral Surgery & Implant Dentistry.

“How often do you get to practice with your best friend?” Jone said. “We would have dinner together and we would go to continuing education. Jerry owned the building and said he was hoping to get in 10 good years.”

And side by side they would work together.

Jerry Beatty loved every minute of every day at his office, but found his time there reduced to part-time work, when back and leg pain took a toll on his physical stamina and in 2017 he spent time at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and Duke University Medical Center.

“He suffered with chronic pain and then cardiovascular issues,” Jones says. “But he couldn’t wait to get back to the office.”

Jerry Beatty would return, and with plenty of candy treats for the staff. He cherished being back.

Gary Jones and the staff cherished having him back. Beatty would arrive at the office early on that sunny day on Sept. 25, 2017, and Jones recalls it all too vividly.

“I was in the middle of doing a case,” Jones says.

He was interrupted to learn that Jerry Beatty had collapsed from a cardiac arrest.

Jones attempted resuscitation, he says, until an Emergency Medical team arrived and transported Beatty to nearby Cape Fear Medical Center.
“I went to the hospital,” Jones says. “I was in shock. I went back to my office, shut the door and I had an emotional moment.”

Jerry Beatty, 70, would be buried with full military honors at Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake. Gary Jones not only remembers Beatty for his proud military service, but for his generous ways when it came to others.

“He had a lot of charities he liked to give to,” Jones says. “Like Wounded Warriors and the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society.” And the annual Sandhills Oral & Implant Surgery Education Scholarship.

“After he passed, we named it the Dr. Gerald W. Beatty Scholarship,” Jones says, and this year’s recipient is Jonathan Piland, 18, a graduate of Cape Fear High School and now attending Duke University, where he is putting the $3,500 education grant toward his studies in biomedical engineering.

“We used to call it by the name of the practice,” Jones says. “After he passed, I thought it was important for him to have a legacy. He said once, ‘This practice is my life.’ And when we get into our new office, I’m going to name a wing the Dr. Gerald W. Beatty Dental Education Center or the Dr. Gerald W. Beatty Continuing Education Center. It is fitting a teaching center be named after Jerry.”

Jones often thinks of his old friend. “I miss talking to him and being able to run difficult cases by him,” he says. “I miss his mentorship, his friendship and the comradery.”

Gary Jones drives past Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery every week on his way home to Pinehurst after another day at Sandhills Oral Surgery & Implant Dentistry, and he never fails to think of his old friend.

“I loved him,” Gary Jones says, “like a brother.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at bkirby@cityviewnc.com or 910-624-1961. Read more of Bill Kirby Jr. in our Insider Newsletter. Subscribe at cityviewnc.com.