Dr. Bill Dresen: He enjoyed the journey | SkyHiNews.com

Dr. Bill Dresen: He enjoyed the journey

by Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Dr. Bill Dresen

Among the things he loved in life were mountain highway switchbacks.

Driving was his thing. But it wasn’t the car, exactly, nor was it the thrill of going fast.

He simply craved the freedom of the open highway.

Dr. Bill Dresen, 70, one of Fraser Valley’s favorite dentists, spread out his practices from Steamboat Springs to Denver and never once minded the commute.

“He loved to drive,” said girlfriend, Sally Carruthers of Winter Park. “He drove everywhere. He especially loved driving on Berthoud Pass.”

Two years ago, Dresen’s life, as long and winding as it was, took a detour when he was diagnosed with cancer.

He’d been an avid skier at Mary Jane Mountain, a boater, a golfer, a traveler, a person who “really knew how to enjoy life, he made the most of every minute every day he had,” said his son, David.

Even right up until his final days.

Battling pancreatic cancer, the prostadontist would insist on driving himself to chemotherapy sessions in Denver.

“He drove himself to Denver five days a week for three weeks, up until the last week, when he didn’t drive himself. He never complained,” said Trish MacDonald, the “Girl Friday” hygienist who worked with Dresen in Winter Park for 12 years.

“He pretty much decided he was done fighting the cancer a week before he passed away,” his son said.

Dresen ” father, grandfather, boyfriend, doctor and friend ” died at home on Oct. 8, 2007.

“When he was first diagnosed, he went through a clinical trial with three types of chemotherapy and radiation in the end,” said Carruthers, who had met Dresen almost to the day of his death four years prior, at a surprise birthday party. “He endured a lot with medical profession trying to survive this hideous disease.”

In spite of 16 months of chemotherapy, Dresen masked his disease by keeping a positive outlook, even continuing on with his work.

Loved ones and coworkers noted that the last thing he gave up was his dentistry and the devotion to his clients. Patients were still scheduled at the office a few days

before he died.

“Just in the last too weeks I asked him ‘howya feelin’?'” MacDonald recalled. “He said ‘I’m feelin’ a little puny.’

“His patients are all probably a little shocked because they didn’t know how severe his cancer was,” she said. “They didn’t know he’d been battling it for two years.”

Dresen’s “love of life” attitude will forever outshine his final days, loved ones say.

A Wisconsin native, Dresen graduated from Marquette University Dental School in Milwaukee in 1957, after which he served three years in the Navy.

Eventually, he moved to Winter Park where he would live for the next 30 years. He volunteered time and energy to the National Sports Center for the Disabled, earning him a lifetime ski pass at the mountain five years ago.

His son said he will mostly miss powder days with his dad.

“On a good powder day, we’d hook up and go skiing together,” David said. “He loved the powder.”

Dresen practiced dentistry in Steamboat, Carbondale, Denver and Winter Park at Winter Park Dental, specializing in dentures, crowns and bridges.

Owner of Winter Park Dental Dr. David Lurye, who had been acquainted with Dresen since 1989, remembers how Dresen kept the dental office open over a month when Lurye was injured and could not practice.

“Bill was a mentor and a friend, and was one of the ‘charter members’ or initial faculty at CU’s dental school,” Lurye said. “He is still remembered fondly by dentists that are now full-time faculty. Just last week while I was there teaching, they were recalling that Bill was a kind and gentle instructor to them in an era when instructors could be less than gracious with students.

“I remember him keeping another doc’s office open in Kremmling when that dentist was stricken with cancer,” Lurye continued. “He did that unsolicited, offering to the dentist and his wife to come down and help out.

“That was a true lesson in generosity and professionalism. We will all miss him and his ever-present smile,” he said.

Dresen was known to barter for services from time to time, such as with one patient who traded carpet cleaning for dental work.

“He always had this big ole endearing grin,” MacDonald said, “his whole face lit up when he grinned; it was great.”

He also loved to cook and would seek out pork chops or steaks at the Kremmling Meat Market on his way back from Steamboat, or enjoy fine foods like Copper River salmon.

And his restaurants of choice were out-of-the way places he’d discover on his road travels.

“He was always finding a ‘joint’ somewhere in little towns that had little restaurants,”

Carruthers said.

Good atmosphere and good food were key, and the more remote they were, the better, she said. “He’d remember them for years ” places he’d eaten maybe ten years ago.”

Locally, he enjoyed Randy’s Mama Falzittos, Deno’s, “the Creek,” the Pub, Hernando’s and Fontenot’s.

And Dresen was fond of travel. Even one and a half years into his disease, he could be found walking the beach and swimming in the Pacific in Troncones, Mexico. He also made a point to visit Madeline Island on Lake Superior, a place he had visited as a child. He’d go there once a year throughout his adult life.

Survived by his son David and daughter Michelle Barnett of Colorado Springs. Dresen has three grandchildren Josh 8, Nicole 6, and Sophia, 7.

“The big thing I learned from him is how to enjoy every day and live it until your very last day,” his son said.

A memorial can be made in Dresen’s honor to NSCD, 1801 Bryant, St. Ste. 1500 Denver, CO 80204 or to Heart of the Mountains Hospice, PO Box 1093, Granby, CO 80446.

“Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext 1919603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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