Dentist filling a niche in Oak Harbor

Randle Carr

As much as Randle Carr has enjoyed growing up in Whatcom County and operating a private dental practice in his hometown of Bellingham, the setting started losing some of its appeal.

He wanted to downsize and get back to the sort of place and pace he was more comfortable in, and saw an opportunity to buy a smaller practice in a smaller town not far away.

In June, he landed in Oak Harbor and started serving patients at Island Dental Center at 20 SW 8th Ave.

“I wanted something a little smaller, a little homier,” Carr said.

Carr believes he’s found that in Oak Harbor, which at 22,000 residents has about one quarter the population of Bellingham.

“It’s way more my style,” he said.

Carr, 43, bought the practice from prosthodontist Kirk Kallander and is converting it into a family dentistry, serving children as well as adults.

Kallander is remaining as an associate, specializing in teeth restoration and replacement, while Carr takes over the day-to-day operations.

“Now it’s his turn to take it to the next level,” Kallander said as he joked with Carr at an open house held at the dental clinic last week.

Carr, a product of the University of Washington School of Dentistry, started his dental career in the Navy. After completing his general dentistry residency at the Naval Dental Center in San Diego, he and his family moved to Okinawa, Japan, where he provided care to Marines and their families stationed with the 3rd Marine Division. He later was a dentist for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit during sea duty on a ship headed for Australia.

After four years in the Navy and 12 years in private practice in Bellingham, he was ready to make a move but didn’t want to go far.

“I still have quite a bit of friends and family in Whatcom County,” Carr said. “I wasn’t going to make a huge move.”

An avid outdoorsman, Carr said he also was drawn to Whidbey’s plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities, particularly salmon fishing.

“I’m looking forward to figuring out this bank fishing you do down here for silvers and humpies,” he said.

Katherine Hargarten, office manager at Island Dental Center, said the transition is going well at the dental center.

The change is bringing children to the office for the first time in Hargarten’s 10 years at the dental center, as Kallander served primarily adult patients.

“That’s kind of exciting,” Hargarten said. “We’re starting to see children again.”

Carr has three daughters of his own and tends to show his humorous side with young patients to ease any anxiety.

“You need that,” Hargarten said.

“He’s very outgoing. That’s what I love about Dr. Carr.”