Last updated: June 01. 2013 12:58PM - 688 Views
Taylor Pardue
Staff Writer



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Dr. James Harrell, Sr. has been in the dental field for 65 years.


One of his sons, Dr. James Harrell, Jr., has been in the dental field for 40 years. Dr. Gavin Harrell, another of Jim Sr.’s sons, has been in dentistry for 35 years.


But the numbers don’t stop there.Including Harrell Sr.’s father, Dr. Roy Brannock Harrell, the family has totalled 200 years in dentistry as of 2013.


“Grandpa set the standard of service to the community, and we have all tried to live up to it,” said Harrell, Jr.


The story of the family’s legacy first ran in the North Carolina Dental Gazette in the Fall 2012 issue. In it they highlighted several families that have contributed to dentistry in North Carolina, but few compare to the Harrells.


Dr. Roy Brannock Harrell, Jim Sr.’s father, began his dental career with a doctoral degree from the Southern Dental College, now known as Emory University. He was a dentist for 60 years, practicing in Elkin until his death in 1977.

His son, Dr. Jim Harrell, Sr., earned a degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and earned his doctoral degree at the Medical College of Virginia, now known as Virginia Commonwealth University, in 1946. Harrell, Sr. said at the time the college was one of very few schools to have a medical and dental school together in the same building.

Following his service in the U.S. Army and as a Navy Dental Officer (from 1945-1946, and again in 1950-1952), he returned from Parris Island, S.C. to Elkin. He has practiced in Elkin for 65 years this year.

Dr. Jim Harrell, Jr. graduated from Elkin High School before completing his undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1969. He earned his D.D.S. from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1973. As of 2013, he has been in private practice for 40 years.

Dr. Gavin Harrell earned his undergraduate degree in 1974 from Lenoir-Rhyne College, and completed his D.D.S. at the UNC Dental School in 1978. He returned to Elkin and has been practicing dentistry for 35 years in 2013.

Dr. Roy Harrell practiced above what is now the Royall’s Soda Shoppe in downtown Elkin, then a hospital. Roy had taken a position there to help Dr. Click, a prominent dentist in the area, while waiting for orders to fight in World War I. The orders never came, and rather than go back to Pilot Mountain where he had lived, he decided to remain in Elkin at the practice. The family tradition of volunteerism began with him. He was the very first Scout leader in Elkin, the organization being at that time new to America, said Harrell, Jr. He also formed the first Kiwanis club in Elkin, along with many other distinctions.


Jim Sr. was born in Elkin, and after receiving his D.D.S. worked with his father on Main Street. As his practice grew, Harrell, Sr. was approached about moving to Parkwood Medical Park, adjacent to Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital.


Harrell Jr. finished college and began working next door to his father for his first years in practice. When Gavin earned his degree he moved into an office near theirs, also in Parkwood Medical Park. As the practices continued to grow, the two sons moved to a new area on Claremont Drive and built separate offices, Harrell Jr. in 1995 and Gavin later in 1997. Harrell, Sr., more than 80 years old at the time, decided to stay in Medical Park.


The North Carolina Dental Gazette said “perhaps the hallmark of this family is their willingness to serve organized dentistry. Each one has the distinction of having served as president of the North Carolina Dental Society.”


The distinctions do not end there, nor do they only encompass professional contributions.

Each has served on numerous civic and dental boards, including the Presidency of the North Carolina Dental Society. According to Jim Harrell, Jr., the NCDS is the North Carolina branch of the American Dental Association, which each man has also served with. Harrell, Sr. served as Vice-President, Harrell, Jr. currently serves as the North Carolina delegate to the ADA, and Gavin serves on the board that deals with insurance codes for dental offices. This is in addition to several other positions held within the organization over the years by all three.


Currently, Harrell Sr. is the chairman of the Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital board. He was also recognized last year as one of the oldest Eagle Scouts in the area.


Each has remained strongly tied to their church, with Harrell, Sr. previously traveling all across the state preaching as a lay person in the Methodist Church. They have also remained closely tied to their home church, the First United Methodist Church of Elkin.


When the similarity between Sr. and Gavin’s looks was mentioned, Sr. replied that he had been stopped in the local grocery store before and asked “Are you Gavin’s dad?”


When interviewed for the article, Harrell, Jr. said jokingly, “Just make sure to mention I’m the good looking one in the family.”


Harrell, Sr. said that he loves the tri-county community, and had as many patients in Yadkin and Wilkes as from Surry. Harrell, Jr. called it “an honor to serve the people of this area.”


To reach Taylor Pardue, call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.

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