Kenmare ND - Features

Real People. Real Jobs. Real Adventures.

Kenmare News









Thanks for reading some of the latest features about area people and events.  

To view every page and read every word of The Kenmare News each week,
subscribe to our ONLINE EDITION


Kenmare Optometry Clinic changes hands...

It’s no secret there has been an out-migration of young people from North Dakota. But if you give young people an opportunity, they’re going to seize it and build a future.

1/07/20 (Tue)

It’s no secret there has been an out-migration of young people from North Dakota. But if you give young people an opportunity, they’re going to seize it and build a future.

And that’s what Dr. David Colby did in offering his optometry clinics in Kenmare and Stanley to Dr. Tesha Gustafson, a native of Stanley who has been working with Colby since she got out of optometry school in 2016.

The change of ownership took place on Wednesday, Jan. 1. What it means is Colby now works for Gustafson, and will continue in that capacity for the foreseeable future.

Contrary to rumors on the street, Colby didn’t retire, but will continue to work. He said he is under a one-year contract and after that, he isn’t sure.

But Colby and Gustafson both had to throw in some optometry humor while discussing the change of ownership on Thursday.

“I can retire now because everybody is 2020,” Colby said.

Gustafson added, “We can all get rid of our glasses now because we’re 2020.”

Jan. 1, 2020 provided them the opportunity to make those remarks.

It’s ironic that both doctors were educated in the same school, the Pacific College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Ore.

For Colby, it was 1976 to 1980. He went to the school after a three-year stint in the Air Force that brought him to the Minot Air Force Base from his hometown of Perham, Minn.

He said Pacific is a good school and it has the background to prove that. Otherwise, he would have probably gone to optometry school in Chicago and he didn’t want to do that coming from a small town in central Minnesota.

Colby said he wanted to have some kind of medical training but didn’t want to tied down so much that he couldn’t enjoy his favorite pastimes of hunting and fishing.

So on Jan. 1, 1984, Colby took over the Kenmare clinic and has been here since.

Gustafson’s path to the clinic is interesting as well as she went to undergraduate studies at the University of Mary in Bismarck with Colby’s daughter Lexi.

Colby’s daughter told him it would really be something if Gustafson came out of college and came to work for her father. Four years later she did and now she owns the practice.

Gustafson too, wanted to do some kind of medical work and got a job at an optometry clinic while in college which built up her interest about the human eye.

“I wanted to do medical,” she said. “I shadowed a dentist giving a child a root canal and decided that was not my path. Then I got a job at the clinic.”

She added she and her husband are both from rural North Dakota and wanted to come back to that setting after college.

“It worked out perfectly,” Gustafson said. “I wanted to come back, but I didn’t expect Kenmare or Stanley.”

Colby said his original goal was to retire at age 55 and now he is nearly 64, so he wasn’t too far off the mark.

“And thanks to Dr. Gustafson, I can back up a little and have more free time,” he said. “My goal from the beginning was to get somebody local.”

According to Colby, both he and his wife Pam are very pleased to see Gustafson in the Kenmare and Stanley clinics.

“I got to work with her for three years,” he said. “And she’s better than I am.”

Colby said the transition has been in the works about a year, but it was discussed prior to that.

“Yes, I was a little nervous about it,” Gustafson said. “We had talked about it when I first came on.”

And for the patients, everything is going to remain the same. Gustafson isn’t going to make any changes, except that some newer examining technology is coming.

“So on the patient front, there won’t be any changes,” she said.

In reality, the staff isn’t changing, just a couple of words on the deed, according to Colby. Otherwise, it’s business as usual.

Either doctor will see each other’s patients if and when the need arises. In fact, Colby talked about an extended vacation and when he came back, he found out Gustafson had treated his patients as well or better than he could have.

And when she first took her position, Colby said he had no intention of leaving it to Gustafson to find her own patients, like some other doctors might do.

He said that gave the young optometrist a chance to set her plans in motion and build a base of patients.

Gustafson doesn’t have any long-term plans, other than keeping the technology up to date. She said her husband has a business in Stanley and being here is what they wanted to do.

Colby said the business of optometry is customer service, not retail. They might sell a pair of glasses here and there, but serving the patients and correcting their vision is paramount.

Both doctors are in the Stanley office on Monday and Tuesday and in Kenmare on Wednesday and Thursday. The clinic will remain open on Friday for the purpose of setting up appointments or taking care of patients who might have been missed, or for emergencies.

“I sort of have the option,” Colby said. “I’m not really retired, but I have more time. I’m under a one-year contract so I plan to be around a while.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!