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About seven miles west of the Alabama/Mississippi state line is the town of Scooba, Miss., boasting a population of 732 according to the 2010 census. And until he entered his ninth grade year in 1960, Scooba was home to UAB School of Dentistry alumnus Dr. Don Weaver.

Dr. Don Weaver with familyDr. Don Weaver with family“There were thirteen students in my eighth grade class, so when we moved to Morton, Miss., it felt like we were moving to the big city. Morton had stoplights and a football team!”

Even though Don’s father was a school teacher, he planted the seed in Don’s mind that dentistry would be a great profession.

“My dad encouraged me, and it just stuck. I went to Mississippi State as a pre-dental undergraduate student, and always intended to go to dental school. Mississippi didn’t have a dental school at the time and it was difficult to get into other state schools. I applied to Louisville, Alabama, Tennessee, and LSU that first go-round. But I admit I wasn’t serious enough in school about my studies and didn’t make the grades I needed, so I didn’t get accepted anywhere. I decided after graduation to work instead toward a master’s degree and PhD in anatomy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss.”

Dr. Weaver married his wife Martha Tip in August of 1968 when he was heading into his final semester at Mississippi State. She taught elementary school while Don continued his education.

“After two years, I was nearing the completion of my master’s degree and was preparing to write my dissertation. But I just still couldn’t shake the desire I had to be a dentist. So I decided to reapply to dental school just to see if I could get accepted. That time, I only applied to Alabama and Tennessee’s programs and Alabama accepted me. I decided to terminate my education at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and go where I really wanted to be – in dentistry.”

Martha Tip and Don moved to Homewood, Ala. in the summer of 1971, and Don started dental school that fall.

“I have nothing but fond memories from our time in Birmingham,” said Don. “The relationships I formed while in dental school with the faculty and my peers were such a blessing. Our classmates shared a deep camaraderie, formed from spending so much time together. And the faculty were always willing to do whatever they could to teach you how to be a capable and successful dentist. They never gave you a shortage of their time.”

After graduating dental school with the class of 1975, Dr. Weaver served a two-year ROTC commitment in Fort Knox, Ky. before he and Martha Tip made their way to Kosciusko, Miss. where Dr. Weaver joined the dental practice of Don Smith. They practiced together for twelve years before Dr. Weaver built his own office in 1992.

“Kosciusko has been a great place to live and raise a family. We are a close-knit community and that’s really all I wanted. I considered specializing but I really enjoyed every aspect of dentistry and didn’t want to restrict myself to one particular phase. And I’ve never regretted that decision. I’ve never regretted a single day of work. Kosciusko has been good to me!”

Don continued practicing dentistry until his retirement in 2016. He hired two associates along the way, Dr. Adam Middleton and Dr. Paul Gundy, and was always beloved by his staff – many of whom were with him for over two decades. And even though he enjoys retirement, Don admits that he still misses his patients.

“I never intended to work my entire life. Dentistry is physically hard on the body, and you have to know when it’s time to step aside. But I’m a people person and I miss seeing my patients every day. Dentistry was an extremely rewarding career for me. Especially here in a small town like Kosciusko, you may treat several generations of one family, and even though I’m retired, I see many of those people around still. I thrived on that daily patient interaction! That’s where the joy of dentistry is – in what you provide for people and the relationships you form. I thank the Lord that I’ve had the opportunity to be in the dental profession.”

Now that Dr. Weaver is retired, he spends most of his time enjoying his family on their 60-acre farm located about four miles outside of Kosciusko. “I have two wonderful daughters, Elizabeth and Amanda, two really neat sons-in-laws, and six grandchildren that keep us busy! I love to go out to our farm and get on my tractor and play farmer. I call it the “Piddlin’ Place” because I just go out there and piddle. It’s my place to relax.”

When he was still practicing, Don consistently returned to Birmingham each February for continuing education courses offered during the School’s Alumni Weekend, and he’s never missed a class reunion.

“I love the School, I love Birmingham, and I love going back! My time at the University of Alabama Dental School remains near and dear to my heart. Even though it’s been nearly fifty years since I was a student, the memories have remained fresh in my mind and I think back on my time there a lot. I’m always so proud to tell people that I went to dental school in Alabama and that I couldn’t have gotten a better education anywhere.”