If you’ve ever attended the Alabama General Dentistry (AGD) meetings in Destin, Fla., you’ve likely seen and heard the man who emcees the raffle drawing each year, possibly wearing a Hawaiian shirt and winning the crowd over with his laidback charm and clever one-liners. That’s Dr. Bob DeShazer, one of the most fun and easy-going dentists to have ever walked the halls of the UAB School of Dentistry.

“Yep, I’m the guy that always gives away the prizes!” Dr. DeShazer said. “I’ve been doing the raffle drawing for probably twenty years at this point. That’s my shtick, and I really enjoy it. Don’t try and take my microphone away from me…”

But his involvement in organized dentistry hasn’t been all play and no work for Bob. He’s been an active AGD member for over thirty years, serving as president in 2005.

“The year I was president, our conference was scheduled for the week after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The beach down in Florida had beautiful, post-hurricane weather so we went forward with the meeting but decided to donate any additional profits we made to organizations supporting dentists who were devastated by the storm. I remember one dentist in particular who drove up from Louisiana. He had brought along a pair of dental loupes that had been destroyed. They were broken and muddy, and he brought them in to the exhibit hall and showed them to a sales rep. The sales rep took them and replaced them for free, and that dentist started crying. It was an interesting meeting, to say the least!”

Dr. DeShazer grew up in Birmingham, and entered Auburn University in the fall of 1971.

“I didn’t have any plans to be a dentist. Like a lot of kids, I didn’t really care for visits to the dentist when I was growing up. I enrolled at Auburn as an engineering major, but during my first year, Dr. David Greer came to campus on a recruitment visit. I met him and, just like everyone else that met him, I really liked him! He was just a wonderful person, so I decided to be a dentist.”

Like most of his classmates, dental school wasn’t easy for Bob. But unlike most young graduates, he wasn’t anxious to start practicing immediately upon graduating in 1979.

“All through dental school I waited tables at restaurants and bars around Birmingham. Quite frankly, waiting tables was a lot more fun than dental school, and it helped get me through that time of my life. I continued to do that even after graduating because I enjoyed it so much, and then I decided to take a couple months off and backpack through Europe. To be honest, I was just doing my best to be a hippie at that time! I mean I had the long hair and everything! But after a couple of months, I decided traveling abroad probably wasn’t the best way to take advantage of my dental degree. Backpacking through Europe is fun for a while, but it can get pretty smelly so I decided to come home.”

Upon his return to Birmingham, Bob landed a job with the public health department as their sole traveling dentist.

“At that particular time, the public health department had a dental trailer we towed behind a car to underserved areas. It was a full miniature dental clinic, and I’d treat patients in those communities. It was cool! I wasn’t married, and I didn’t know any better. I did it for less than a year, before I realized it wasn’t going to pay all the bills for very long and I needed a better long-term plan. So I started looking around for a place to practice, and for some reason, Pell City just seemed like a good location. The timing worked out well for me too, because I had already begun constructing my office building when we accidentally flipped the trailer! I wasn’t the person driving thankfully, but I remember going around a corner and looking in the rearview mirror, and the trailer had separated from the car and rolled over into a ditch. Totally destroyed it. So that pretty much took care of that!”

Even though Bob admittedly didn’t give much forethought to where he’d settle down and grow his practice, Pell City ended up being the perfect fit.

“It turns out I love the small town atmosphere. You can be a big fish in a small pond; it’s good for your ego!” joked Dr. DeShazer. “I enjoy bumping into people around town who genuinely care about how I’m doing. Even though I’m retired, I still see and keep up with former patients. In fact, I remained good friends with the very first patient I ever had for his whole life! I still have a dollar bill he gave me, the first dollar I ever made while private practice!”

Dr. DeShazer practiced dentistry in Pell City from 1980 until his retirement in 2019. After a long and successful career, he has reputable insight regarding what new graduates should and should not do upon entering the field of dentistry. But true to his personality, his counsel comes laced with humor:

  • All old dentists think they are a fountain of knowledge for new dentists to learn from, but that’s actually not so! There’s no ‘cookbook’ that will work for all practices. Figure out what works for you; don’t let someone try and tell you how your practice should operate. Take advice, sure, but don’t be afraid to tweak things if and when you need to.
  • If you screw up, fix it. Give them their money back and pay for someone else to fix it. Everyone’s going to screw up; just learn early to admit when you’ve made a mistake.
  • Continuing Education courses keep you young and engaged. If you don’t keep up with them, it’s going to be a long, boring slog.
  • Pay off your debts as soon as possible and start planning for retirement on day one.
  • Balance your career and other areas of your life. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on your family and kids. Not to mention, you’ll just get beat down and that’s not fun.

Bob and his wife, Dianne, have been married for 33 years and have one daughter, Dr. Claire Leverton who graduated from UAB’s School of Dentistry in 2015. Claire and her husband Daniel, along with their two children Dexter (4) and Leela (2), also live in Pell City. When Bob and Dianne aren’t enjoying their grandchildren, or their home on the Coosa River, they’re probably down in the Florida panhandle, relaxing in Seacrest.

“I’m definitely enjoying retirement!” Dr. DeShazer said. “But I enjoyed my work. It was an excellent profession, and I did well with it. I tried to be good to dentistry, and dentistry was good to me.”


If you would like to nominate a UAB School of Dentistry alumnus to be featured in an upcoming Alumni Spotlight, please email Elizabeth Carlson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..