Top Texas Dentist Comes Home To Open New Facility
Gary Schwarz is a Mercedes Tiger, a 1971 graduate and all-district running back and linebacker in his playing days.
Growing up as a self-described farm boy north of Mercedes, Schwarz could see himself having fields of cotton, lettuce, and strawberries coming up under his watch, just like his father, a farmer and rancher. His mother, Bonnie, had other ideas.
“You’re going to be a farmer over my dead body,’’ he recalled his mother saying.
Schwarz’s father, Marvin, noting his son finished third academically in his graduating class, advised he go to college and study medicine. Gary could always dabble in farming and ranching later on, the father said, a scenario he would eventually make a reality with his present ranch in Zapata County.
Dentistry was the choice Schwarz made. He went to Baylor University, graduating with honors, and staying with Baylor to attend the College of Dentistry. He was selected for an oral surgery residency at Baylor and would go on to earn a certificate of completion in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
A return to the Rio Grande Valley would follow. Dr. Schwarz established a successful practice in McAllen in the 1980s. Business would grow and Valley OMS subsequently opened offices in Brownsville, Harlingen and Weslaco. A return to his hometown wasn’t something Dr. Schwarz contemplated. His practice across the Valley grew and the need for more space and improved facilities became apparent. The doctor cast an eye toward the Mid-Valley and a location to better serve his patients outside of the McAllen area.
“As we looked for land, and we saw that for what you pay and what you get, there’s no comparison,’’ Dr. Schwarz said. “Mercedes is getting ready to take off. I think it’s going to be beautiful there.’’
Dr. Schwarz, the Academy of General Dentistry’s Texas Dentist of the Year in 2020, sees that beautiful spot as being along Expressway 83, just across from the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets. It’s a piece of property between Mile 1 E and Mile 2 E roads. Dr. Schwarz will break ground there on May 20 for a 7000-square-foot facility.
“Coming back to Mercedes is a dream come true,’’ he said.
Applying Life Lessons
The doctor’s memories of growing up in Mercedes are vivid ones all of these years later.
He speaks of life lessons learned from not only his parents but from teachers and coaches as well. Working and earning your keep was a given back then. The doctor recalled working in area packing sheds and putting cantaloupes into boxes.
“Hard work, good money,’’ is how he described it.
Packing shed work is where he made an observation that would later be an inspiration in devising a new surgical technique. In packing cantaloupes, a young Gary Schwarz noticed that the job couldn’t be done well unless you could see inside the box.
“You can’t do well if you can’t see it,’’ he recalled thinking.
The same goes for impacted wisdom teeth. The observation from the packing sheds of his youth helped Dr. Schwarz to implement a more minimally invasive extraction surgical technique for impacted molars. It means less pain and faster recovery for his patients. The technique is among the expertise that will be offered at the new Mercedes dental facility that will include a certified class one surgery room.
Dr. Jeffery Dyke, a native of the Rio Grande Valley – will join Dr. Schwarz in September as Valley OMS improves its facility and grows its business. For Dr. Schwarz, it’s a personal journey to be coming back to Mercedes as he has also purchased property on Baseline Road, in the area where he learned to fish as a boy.
“Mercedes has been wonderful to me,’’ he said. “I had such a fantastic foundation given to me at Mercedes High School.’’
- Ricardo D. Cavazos