For one reason or another, the Medical College of Alabama in Birmingham chose not to accept Dr. Grady Price’s application to enter medical school for the fall of 1959. At the time, Dr. Price was studying pre-med at the University of Alabama and was preparing for a career as a physician when his plans abruptly changed.

“It turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me!” Grady said. “I decided to apply to dental school instead. My dentist back home in Fort Payne had been encouraging me to go to dental school all along, and I had some buddies ahead of me in college who had gone to dental school and told me how great it was. When I took the entrance exam, I remember thinking ‘Oh, this is good. I am really going to like dental school!’”

Sure enough, Dr. Price excelled in his dental studies. “It was far more satisfying than undergraduate work,” he remembered. “I just thoroughly enjoyed it! I don’t know why I didn’t get accepted to medical school, but I remember the registrar, Nona Bridges, coming up to me and my family at the awards night and saying ‘Every year I would take your grades to the medical school to show them how well you’ve done and to remind them that they didn’t accept you!’”

Dr.PriceDr. Price graduated from the School of Dentistry in 1964 ranked third in his class. After an externship at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham the summer before his senior year, Dr. Price decided to pursue an orthodontic residency.

“Dr. Boyd Tarpley, who was Co-Chair of the Orthodontic Department at the time, had a big influence on me. The department had a policy that you had to be out practicing general dentistry for at least two years before entering the orthodontic residency program. I wanted to get started as soon as possible, and so Dr. Tarpley helped me get accepted into the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s residency program. They had 265 applicants, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the nine who were accepted. And I loved living in Kansas City, particularly the long falls and hot, dry summers. But Alabama had such magnetism and it pulled me back home.”

Born in Fort Payne, Ala., Grady originally intended to return to North Alabama to practice near Decatur or Huntsville. “But while I was in residency, two orthodontists settled in Decatur. I was encouraged to go down to Montgomery and speak with another orthodontist Dr. Duke Edwards. He invited me to the Second District Dental Society’s Christmas function, and I was able to meet a whole host of dentists from the area. I was so warmly received that I knew Montgomery was where I needed to go!”

Dr. Price ended up renting an office in the same building as Dr. Edwards, becoming only the fifth orthodontist in Montgomery at the time. But even as more orthodontists moved in overtime, Dr. Price never felt like there was animosity between practitioners.

“Montgomery dentistry was the finest of anywhere I’d ever heard about,” Grady proudly declared. “There weren’t factions or cliques. Dentists were the best of friends with each other. Everyone attended the Second District meetings, and there was a group of us who would meet for lunch every single Wednesday. It was just good camaraderie, it wasn’t a competition. We wanted others to do well because then we’d do well too. We didn’t want to do well at the expense of another dentist.”

Eventually, Dr. Price decided to build his own office farther away from the center of town. “Dentists were heavily congregated downtown back then, but I could see the handwriting on the wall – my patients were having to drive a long way to come to town so I chose a new location. It sat parallel to the interstate and, at the time, only had a dirt access road! In fact, the interstate wasn’t even completed. When I built my office, I had to bring my own bush hog from our farm and bush hog the lots around the property so it didn’t look so wooly. It turned out to be a great move, and it’s still a viable location to this day.”

After nearly two decades in his new office, Dr. Price decided it was time to start thinking about hiring an associate. “My practice had become really busy, and I thought it would be good to have another orthodontist around so that I could easily exit at some point,” explained Dr. Price. But, true to form, Dr. Price was thorough in his search for an associate.

“While I was interviewing people, I was also working with a psychologist who evaluated me to determine who I’d be compatible with. Based on that psychological evaluation, Dr. Tim Trulove ended up being my perfect match. And I’ll say that, even after all these years, Dr. Trulove and I haven’t had one single minute of disagreement! I can’t say enough good things about him,” Grady gushed.

On top of overseeing his thriving practice, Dr. Price became heavily involved in organized dentistry and served in the highest levels of leadership for the state, regional, and national orthodontic associations. He was instrumental in enacting change that benefitted and grew each of these groups, and as a result, he was presented with several awards. Among these include the Distinguished Service Award from the Southern Association of Orthodontists’ (SAO), and the James E. Brophy Award from the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), both of which are each organization’s highest honor.

“When I was president of the SAO in 1984, the lease on our building in Atlanta was coming up for renewal, and I decided we should just build our own headquarters. I, along with our immediate past president, Dr. Walter Sheffield, spearheaded an effort to raise $250,000, asking 250 of our members to each give $1000. It took us eighteen months to complete that project. At the time, we were the only regional constituent that had its own office building!”

Dr. Price continued. “I was later appointed president of the AAO Foundation which, at the time, only had a small amount of money in it. We knew our members would be willing to support the Foundation’s purpose of promoting research and furthering the orthodontic profession, so we came up with a fundraising drive called “A Case for the Future.” We made it our initial goal to raise six million dollars by getting orthodontists to donate one case each to the cause. We surpassed our six million dollar goal quickly, so we increased it to ten million, but after surpassing that, we decided to do away with a cap altogether! To date, over thirty million dollars have been pledged, and over fourteen million has been given out in research and scholarships since 1994.”

These days, Grady and his wife, Judy, split their time between their Ramer, Ala. farm, and their home near Lake Toxaway, North Carolina. They are active members of Lake Toxaway Country Club and love to play croquet. (In fact, Grady was club champion in 2018!) The couple has three children and three grandchildren.

After years of improving the self-esteem of countless patients, friendships with colleagues and other dentists, and service to organized orthodontics, there are very few people who don’t gush with fondness and admiration at the mention of Dr. Price’s name. But even amidst the many awards and kind words, he remains humble.

“It wasn’t about me,” said Grady. “It was about the profession. I almost tear up just thinking about it. I have loved it all so much!”