Dentist Marks Nearly Four Decades in Hinsdale
By Larry Atseff
Longevity is a key measure of success. In the following Q and A with Dr. Peter Harnois, we find out how he has carried on the tradition started by Dr. Donald Thorne in 1969. This year, Dr. Harnois will mark nearly 40 years of dentistry in Hinsdale. At the same time, he has also been a good dad for his four children, ranging in age from 6 to 23. How did you decide on dentistry as a career? On this Father’s Day, I honor my dearly departed father, Trefle Paul Harnois. That man meant everything to me and at the ripe old age of 13 at Hinsdale Junior High when I was in 8th grade in February of 1969, he started my career path. He came home from work one day and said ” Son, I want you to pick your future job and career.” I asked. “Ok dad, what are my choices?” At the time I was probably thinking about our next basketball game for school or that cute girl in math class. The 3 choices he gave me were Law, Medicine or Dentistry.
Four months later, after researching The Encyclopedia Britannica, and talking with many friends, I chose dentistry. Dr. Harnois, you have practiced Dentistry for more than 40 years! What are your proudest moments? In early October of 1982 I became an associate of Dr. Donald Thorne. At the time, he was arguably the finest dentist Hinsdale had ever seen. We sat at lunch and he reviewed my resume. I was Class president for 3 years at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, recipient of the College of Dentistry Award of Merit, and numerous Campus Leadership and Clinical Excellence awards. All of it led him to remark that my credentials were strong and he offered me a position in his practice. Ten years later he took me out for another lunch to congratulate me. He said that the apprentice had surpassed the master and he now considered me to be the stronger, better dentist. Wow! I was taken aback by his comments. He was the finest clinical dentist I had ever seen, let alone work for. In the first 5 years of practicing with Dr. Thorne, I would stand behind him on my days off while he treated his patients. I learned so much that way. He and I traveled together to countless continuing education courses to learn better dentistry together. We had a fantastic relationship and my time with him led me to become the best possible dentist I could ever be. We were partners for 24 years before he retired, and I became the senior partner at Hinsdale Dentistry in 2006. You are the father of four. How has each shaped your life as a father and busy doctor?
When my oldest daughter Katherine Grace was born September 30th,1997, my entire life changed in such a powerful direction. Becoming a father for the first time was the greatest moment of my 29 years of life. I had never felt so connected to a person. Those first 3 years of having Grace to myself were so precious. 3 years later Madeleine was born and it was so obvious that she was my daughter. She looked and acted like me with the same open, free, and friendly spirit. Another 3 years passed and my only son Trefle Patrick was born and the heir to my father’s name. He became the third Harnois born at Hinsdale Hospital. 21 years later Isabel Beatriz Harnois was born and my third daughter is one of the closest duplicates of a parent that I had ever witnessed. We have the same phenotype and genotype. She also carries a wondrous Hispanic spirit from her mother’s side of the Harnois’ of Hinsdale family. As a single father at 65 with a six-year old daughter, life is one amazing journey. Isabel is the love of my life! How has your profession shaped your life you over the years?
My commitment to my patients is to deliver the best possible aesthetic dentistry. Another driving force is my never-ending thirst for knowledge to be able to take the best possible care of my patients. All of them. This beloved Hinsdale Dentistry practice I helped to build these past 40 years is an evolution. Don Thorne started the practice in 1969, and as the Senior Partner these past 15 years I now feel I have the strongest team assembled of any dental practice in the land. I am also the senior faculty lead of several advanced aesthetic academies. The way I look at it, I am the Doctor who trains the doctors to create beautiful, aesthetic smile makeovers all over North America. Lecturing these past 15 years on Emerging Technologies in Dentistry has enabled me to bring the newest technologies back to Hinsdale Dentistry to be able to take the best, least invasive, aesthetic care of our patients. Digital scanners, high tech soft and hard tissue lasers and high-end porcelain veneers that preserve and protect patients existing tooth structures are just some of those technologies. I love being a dentist in this great town of Hinsdale. My older 3 children all attended Oak School, St Ignatius, and Hinsdale Central. Now my beloved Isabel is in Kindergarten at Monroe Grade School where I attended in 1961. She will be the final chapter of the Harnois clan at Hinsdale Central. Life is great!
*Photos by Marcello Rodarte