Dr. Chuck Walter.
This WSOMS Executive Director (ED) is a retired maxillofacial surgeon who makes his home in Bellingham, WA. Together with his wife, Elsie, they raised two daughters and maintained a successful dental practice from 1982 until 2014.
Despite being retired, Chuck continues to take an active role in WSOMS. “I’ve served in various offices of the local dental society, the WA state OMS Society and WSOMS,” he says. “I’ve been a WA delegate for 20 years, Caucus Chair of District VI for 9 years, and president of WSOMS 2002-2003. Now I’m taking over as ED, a position Linda McDonald has owned for the last 14 years. She’s a tough act to follow!
Linda McDonald is a tough act to follow.
How did you get started in Maxillofacial Surgery?
My dad was a dentist but he never pushed me or my older brother, Jim, toward dentistry. We just gravitated to it naturally. Jim opened an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical practice in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and I ended up in Bellingham, Washington.
Where did you grow up?
I was raised in Ames, Iowa and attended the University of Iowa for undergrad and Dental College. I then did a year of GPR at the University of Minnesota before going to Ohio State University for my residency.
The way it happened was a God thing.
How did you get from Ohio to Bellingham?
The way it happened was a God thing. Jim (who’s three years older than me) was exploring a potential associateship with Dan Cheney in Bellingham WA, but decided against the move. Three years later Jim and I were at the national meeting when we unexpectedly bumped into Dan. His Bellingham associateship was still available so this time he offered it to me. Dan Cheney became my business partner and Elsie and I moved here in 1982. I maintained an active practice until 2014 when medical issues forced me to retire.
Tell us about your family.
I knew my wife, Elsie, in high school. Our first date was after a home baseball game. (I was on the baseball team even after I graduated.) Elsie’s specialty was early childhood education. After we were married, she put her skills to good use raising our children, volunteering with the PTA, and teaching preschool — something she continues to do today. We’ve been married 40 happy years with two beautiful daughters. We’re blessed because we honestly enjoyed the experience of being parents. I can’t remember any challenging times with our girls.
We’re blessed because we honestly enjoyed the experience of being parents!
Chelsea, our oldest, earned a doctorate in physical therapy and works with the Gilbert Arizona School District. She’s married to a wonderful man, Ian, who is a financial planner with a university. They’re parents to our only grandchild so far, two-year-old Jenna.
Tiffany, our youngest, is an attorney. She worked temporarily with the Washington State Attorney General but then decided it wasn’t her calling; she’s switching to another field of law. Tiffany is married to Ryan, another wonderful man, who works for Starbucks in IT. They live in Bellingham.
My brother, Jim, has two daughters as well, ages 7 and 11.
Did you get involved with the Bellingham community?
Oh yes. I’m a member of our local rotary and I’ve served on their board. I’ve also been on the local school’s Site Base Council and the PTSA. Our daughters played tennis in high school and I established a tennis parent support group. I’ve been on the board of the Mount Baker Theatre (MBT) for over 15 years. For you folks who don’t live around here, the MBT is a renovated 1927 movie/vaudeville theater that seats 1500 and sponsors 32 Broadway-quality productions each year. Currently I’m also on the board of the Unity Clinics, a nonprofit medical and dental clinic for impoverished men, women, and children.
What do you do for fun?
Elsie and I love to travel. Being part of WSOMS has given us plenty of opportunities to visit great resorts and beautiful locales. We always look forward to the Annual Meetings where we catch up with oral surgery friends and explore new destinations. For example, we’ve enjoyed the sparkling beaches of Maui and Kauai; our daughters loved the 45-minute lazy river at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas; and Elsie will go on a Princess Cruise anywhere anytime.
There are plenty of fun things to do here at home as well. We’re big Mariners fans and get season tickets every year. We also like to attend the theater in Bellingham and Seattle. I’d have to say that our favorite pastimes always include family. We especially love being Grandma and Grandpa.
I’d have to say that our favorite pastimes always include family. We especially love being Grandma and Grandpa.
How about memories? Is there something unusual or especially interesting you can share?
Well, I attended all four major golf tournaments and The Masters for 14 years. My dad played in the Bob Hope Golf Tournament for 35 years and during that period I met countless movie stars and TV celebrities. Lots of people don’t know that I played a round of golf with Clint Eastwood. I also had the pleasure of enjoying a drink with Wayne Gretzky at the Vancouver Olympics.
I’ve been very blessed. As my mentor used to say, “it’s a great life.”