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A teller of tall tales, avid outdoorsman, excellent dentist; Dr. Cherry remembered

"He was an excellent spinner of tall tales... tall, tall, tall tales," said Detroit Lakes dentist Dr. Tom Fritz, referring to his former partner, Dr. Curt Cherry.

Cherry, 76, passed away last Wednesday, March 15, leaving behind a legacy of laughter, love, community service, and yes, dental artistry.

"He had a lot of faithful patients, who loved him dearly," Fritz said. "I still see some of the things he did back in the 1940s and early 50s... his (former) patients point them out to me all the time. He did some work that was very well done and lasted a long time."

But Cherry didn't just make his mark in the dental field. His legacy will also be long remembered at the Detroit Country Club, where he served on the board of directors for 34 years, including five years as its president.

"He dedicated a lot of time to that golf course," said James Sinclair, a Detroit Lakes attorney who served on the DCC board with Cherry for many years. "He was very instrumental in the building of the new clubhouse... he did an outstanding job of supervising the work and making sure everything got done the way it was supposed to be done."

Sinclair described Cherry as "very community-oriented."

"He was a good guy... a good family man," added Dave Knutson, a longtime friend and neighbor of the Cherry family, which includes wife Judie and daughters Colleen, Cynthia and Carol. "I'd also describe him as a very good outdoorsman."

Besides golfing, Cherry also had a passion for deer hunting, and "he was a year-round fisherman," Knutson added.

"I enjoyed playing golf with him, a lot of people did. I was a duffer, but he was a very good golfer, since he was a young man."

Knutson also went on fishing trips with him, including a couple of jaunts into Canada back in the 1960s, with fellow sport fishing enthusiasts Dr. Bob Watson and Jim Evans.

And then, there were the trips to the family cabin on Juggler Lake, which Cherry used not only for his regular deer hunting excursions, but also for family gatherings, bonfires, etc.

Their families also socialized together frequently on the weekends. But Knutson was not only a friend and neighbor, he was also a customer.

"He (Cherry) was a good dentist," Knutson said. "I never lost a tooth while I was with him. He was my dentist of choice, until he retired (in 1991)."

Though he was a dedicated dentist, his passion for the outdoors would put "an extra bounce in his step" when deer hunting season rolled around, Fritz noted.

"He'd be most excited about life when things got closer to deer hunting season," Fritz added.

"We deer hunted together for years," said Jerry Fox, a longtime family friend. "They have a place up on Juggler Lake, and we spent a lot of time there together."

Even after he got sick, Fox noted, they would tease Cherry about "sitting around in bed" when he should be out hunting with them.

"He was very good natured," Fox said.

"We teased him a lot, but he'd always come back with a smart remark and put us in our place," added fellow hunting companion Harry Salminen. "There's a lot of us who are going to miss him. Deer camps just aren't going to be the same. We had a lot of laughs together."

Cherry, of Detroit Lakes, received a bachelor of arts degree in 1951, a bachelor of science degree in 1955, and a doctor of dental surgery degree in 1955, all from the University of Minnesota. Upon graduation from college, he joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Nagoya, Japan, where he practiced dentistry and earned the rank of captain.

Curt married Judith Louise Rhoades on Sept. 22, 1956, in Nagoya. In 1957, they moved to Detroit Lakes, where he became a partner with Dr. Tom Rogstad. Fritz and Dr. Roger Hesby later joined them.

The practice became known as Dental Associates, and is still in existence today, though Cherry retired in 1991. In addition to his practice and work with the DCC, he was very active the American Cancer Society, Elks Lodge No. 2261, Detroit Lakes Jaycees, and was the Water Carnival Admiral in 1963.

"He was the 28th Water Carnival admiral, and I was the 29th," Knutson noted. "He ran a good water carnival that year, and he enjoyed getting together with the past admirals every year after that."

Cherry was also a past president of the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Becker County Republican Party, chairman of the Board of Directors of Multi-County Nursing Service, chairman of the Becker County Planning and Zoning Commission and president of the Oak Grove Cemetery Board.

He is survived by his wife, Judie, three daughters and two grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday at Zion Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes. A complete obituary appears on page 6A of today's (Sunday, March 19)Tribune.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

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