Dr. Jim Reagan Honored with Silent Bell Award

Dr. Jim and Becky Reagan

Naturally humble, grounded and committed – those are all words used to describe Dr. Jim Reagan. The longtime Lowell dentist is well-known locally for his willingness to always pitch in wherever needed, and that dedication has not gone unnoticed professionally as well.

Last Friday, Reagan was awarded the Silent Bell Award, the highest honor conferred by the West Michigan District Dental Society. It is given to a member of the society who quietly goes about helping the community without needing or expecting a bell tolled to recognize their efforts.

While no recognition is needed, it was given on Friday night as Reagan received the award during a presentation held at the Cascade Hills County Club. A large contingent from Lowell turned out of the event, along with members of the WMDDS. Together, they celebrated a man who has been silently working to better the Lowell community for decades.

Award is “One You Have to Earn”

Photo courtesy of West Michigan District Dental Society, © Bird + Bird Studio, Kristina Bird.

The WMDDS has more than 720 members in five counties: Kent, Ottawa, Ionia, Mecosta and Montcalm. The organization has been handing out the Silent Bell Award since 1981.

“This is one you have to earn,” says Dr. Erick Rupprecht, a retired dentist, the 2020 Silent Bell recipient and a member of this year’s Silent Bell committee. The award is peer-conferred, meaning other area dentists nominate and select the recipient. “It’s for someone who has walked the walk with humility.”

Looking back at Reagan’s long history in Lowell, Rupprecht says he represents the “perfect meld of clinician and active citizen.” Not only has he worked to promote good dental health – particularly among children and their families – but he has also given generously of his time and talents to a laundry list of community organizations.

Over the years, Reagan has been involved in all the following organizations, among others:

  • Lowell YMCA
  • Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Lowell Showboat
  • Lowell Rotary Club
  • Lowell Area Historical Association
  • Downtown Development Authority
  • Lowell Area Schools Board of Education
  • Arbor Board
  • St. Mary Catholic Church

Between all his community service activities, he also was the owner and full-time dentist at Reagan Family Dentistry for decades. While he has since passed the torch to Dr. Min Han, Reagan continues to work twice a week at the practice, which is now known as Riverside Dentistry.

“Dr. Jim has made an indelible mark on Lowell and continues to today,” said Rick Seese, another longtime Lowell resident, in introducing Reagan during Friday’s ceremony.

Surprised and Honored by Award

Photo courtesy of West Michigan District Dental Society, © Bird + Bird Studio, Kristina Bird.

Reagan says he was surprised to learn he was this year’s recipient. When he initially received a message from the WMDDS president, he assumed he was being asked to join a committee. But when he learned he was to be the Silent Bell recipient, he says he was both humbled and flattered by the honor.

“This is the highlight of my dental career,” Reagan said when accepting the award. “To be recognized by my peers is truly an honor.”

In his remarks, Reagan discussed the joys of being able to work in his hometown and some of the quirks that come with it – such as the time in the days before cell phones when someone sat in the church parking lot on a Saturday night waiting for Reagan to come out so he could ask about a chipped tooth.

For the new dentists in the audience, Reagan encouraged them to consider working in a small or rural town. There is a need for dentists in these communities, and the rewards are great.

“It has been a privilege to treat generations of local families, to see patients at local football games, concerts, churches, summer concerts and fairs and to support initiatives that make our community a better place,” Reagan said.

Multi-Generational Honor

Photo courtesy of West Michigan District Dental Society, © Bird + Bird Studio, Kristina Bird.

Reagan isn’t the first person in his family to receive the Silent Bell Award. His father – Dr. Bob Reagan – was the recipient in 1993. That makes them the first family to have multiple generations receive the honor, Seese noted.

It isn’t the first honor the father-son pair has shared either. Dr. Bob was the 1991 Lowell Person of the Year, an award given annually by the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. Then, in 1997, Dr. Jim was also named the Lowell Person of the Year, making him one of the youngest recipients ever.

Dr. Bob’s legacy includes not only the dental practice and a model of excellent for Dr. Jim, but also nine children who have each made their own mark on the world. Anyone who knows the Reagan clan knows their Irish roots run deep. And so, it was only fitting that the award ceremony evening should end with a sing-along of “Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”

Yes, the Irish eyes are smiling – and the Lowell eyes too. Congratulations to Dr. Jim Reagan on receiving the prestigious Silent Bell Award and thank you for a lifetime of service to the Lowell community.

All photos except feature image courtesy of West Michigan District Dental Society, © Bird + Bird Studio, Kristina Bird.

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