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Springhill remembers longtime dentist Dr. Gus Prentice

Longtime Springhill dentist, Dr. Gus Prentice, passed away Jan. 21 following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Longtime Springhill dentist, Dr. Gus Prentice, passed away Jan. 21 following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. - Contributed

Second World War veteran practiced dentistry until he was 70

SPRINGHILL, N.S. – Dr. Gus Prentice cared about his community and those he went into battle with during the Second World War.

The respected and admired Springhill dentist passed away at High Crest Nursing Home in Springhill on Jan. 21 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

He was 98.

“He cared a lot about his community, but also the wider community in the organizations and the veterans,” his son John told the Amherst News. “I know he also did a lot for youth through his work at the golf club and the junior golf program.”

Prentice left school early to support the family and enlisted to go overseas and fight for his country. His son said he didn’t talk much about the war at first, but as he aged he talked about some of the things he saw and experienced and how it left a lasting impression on him and his brothers in arms.

At the end of the war he went back to finish high school in Moncton and eventually on to dental school at Dalhousie University, graduating in 1955, before going back to Springhill to establish a dental practice.

For many years, he was Springhill’s only dentist and subsequently retired at age 70.

He continued to serve his fellow veterans spending countless hours doing assessments on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada at various nursing homes.

It was important to Prentice in that it brought comfort to the veterans he visited.

John said he had a long-lasting friendship with Dr. Arnold Burden and they would read the honour roll on the cenotaph every Nov. 11.

“Arnold would read the names from the First World War and dad would read the names from the Second World War and as he got older it got very emotional for him,” John said.

He was also very active in the community through various organizations including the Lions Club. He was active in the fundraising drive to build the All Saints Hospital and the Centennial Golf Club and he was also active in the creation of the former Cumberland-Westmorland Senior Golf League.

“He was very service oriented, he served his community in many ways and he served his country,” John said. “He served his community not only as a professional, but he led the fundraising efforts for the new hospital in Springhill, he was instrumental in the acquisition of the land for the construction of the golf course and he was involved in the opening of the curling club and was active in the Lions Club. He was also very active in his church and well into his 90s he maintained two gardens. Most of what he grew he gave away.”

Prentice was also very active at the Northumberland Links, serving as a starter – wearing his kilt – well into his 80s.

He is survived by his wife Eleanor (Wry), married for 69 years, son John (Barbara), daughter Ruth Norton (Stuart), five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He was also predeceased by stepfather Michael Rae, brothers John and Leonard as well as step sister Lorraine and half sister and half brother Doris and Aubrey.

His celebration of life was on Jan. 26 and John said it truly was a recognition of a great life.

“Separate from the funeral, that was well attended, we’ve had dozens of acknowledgements from people that he did kind things for,” John said. “He was so generous to so many people.”

John said he was also accomplished in needlepoint and gave away many of his creations.

“My son, who did the eulogy, held up a piece of needlepoint that my father gave to him and he asked how many people here had received a piece of art or needlepoint from my father and a lot of hands went up. That’s the type of man he was.”

He said the acknowledgements mean so much to his mother and the family.

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