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Longtime Luverne dentist reflects on career, praises successor

Luverne dentist Dr. Tom Sanders had mixed emotions when he sent out a letter in late January announcing his retirement.

Sanders has spent over 37 years serving the dental needs of Crenshaw County residents, a career that he says was a “lifelong dream.” Despite plans to continue his practice for as long as possible, a recent injury forced him to consider retirement.

Sanders, a Montgomery native, moved to Luverne with his wife Margie in 1982 after finishing dental school. Their original office was located on W. 3rd Street- now the Crenshaw Animal Clinic- and the practice remained there for 10 years.

In 1992, they moved to their current location.

Sanders said the decision to set up shop in Luverne was based on the location and community.

“I’ve always had a love of the outdoors, and we were just looking for somewhere with a slower pace of life, away from the rat race of the big city,” Sanders said.

Margie Sanders worked at Luverne High School as an instructor for students with learning disabilities before joining her husband at the dental practice in 2004.

Establishing himself as a trusted community dentist was the Sanders’ ultimate goal.

“It was a lifelong dream. I grew up next door to a dentist who was a father figure to me and influenced me tremendously… This was my dream, to go to a small community and make an impact,” he said.

He went on to say that he couldn’t have chosen a better home than Crenshaw County.

“We’ve been blessed in this community, people have been loving and accepting and embraced us from day one. I couldn’t have picked a place in the country or the world more hospitable to live and work,” Sanders said.

Since he announcement his retirement via letter, Sanders has received visitors and calls- “an outpouring of support.”

“It really doesn’t surprise me because of the quality of people who live here,” he said of the well-wishes.

“I’ve appreciated the trust, the loyalty and the support. Being someone’s doctor or dentist is a very personal relationship, and I’ve always tried to be here for my patients.”

Sanders has also gone as far to hand-pick his successor, Dr. Dan Hudson.

Hudson graduated from Opp High School and grew up “just south of Brantley along Highway 331,” according to a letter sent to Dr. Sanders’ patients.

“I’m turning it over to someone who will carry on [this practice]. He’s going to be a perfect fit for the community. We’ve known each other for years and I know his reputation in Montgomery as a dentist and as a person,” Sanders said of Dr. Hudson.

Sanders’ staff is expected to stay in place at the practice under Hudson.

Hudson has several ties to the area, including his parents Buddy and Janice Hudson. His father owned Hudson Radio and TV south of Brantley.

An Army veteran with 18 years of experience in private practice in Montgomery, Hudson is a member of the Christian Dental Association. In addition to his private practice work, he has also “led dental mission teams all over the globe,” according to his introduction letter.

Dr. Hudson said that he is “looking to come home,” and was excited at the prospect when contacted by Dr. Sanders.

As for his retirement, Sanders is looking forward to enjoying his family and, of course, the additional free time.

“I just plan to enjoy each day without so much responsibility and worrying about the tiny details. Maybe I’ll learn to relax more. I’ll be able to enjoy my grandchildren, and leave town knowing that my patients are taken care of,” he said.

Sanders will officially begin his retirement on Feb. 10.