Sherry, Riverdale Dental marks 40 years on island
Markus Sherry DMD describes Pine Island as a hidden gem. At only 29 years old, when he decided to open his first dental office here on the island, he said people asked him why on earth he would do that. After 40 years and having opened five more offices, he hasn’t looked back.
“I was teased quite a bit by friends and colleagues when I came out here,” said Sherry, “I just smiled and said, thank you but you don’t have a good grip on the unique environment, demographics and strong Midwestern ethic that I have learned to appreciate. We’ve used those practices in many ways, not only in dentistry but our involvement in the community and different types of commitments.”
Sherry recalls that back when he started, the only bank out here didn’t believe the island could support a dentist. However, Bank of the Islands did share his vision, and he was able to acquire a loan.
He and a handyman worked together through the summer of 1980 to complete the Riverdale Dental island office, and opened right after Labor Day. Sherry’s history with the island began even further back to a time when he was the original migrant healthcare dentist for Southwest Florida in 1978.
“During that time period I had treated the migrant health families in Southwest Florida,” Sherry said. “The government allowed me to do research to the outlying areas that needed a dentist. That research is what motivated me to come out here and look at the possibilities.”
He went on to explain a time when he’d asked an island deputy sheriff about the local youth activities. He was told there wasn’t much for them to do, often resulting in their truancy. That became a deciding factor in Sherry’s desire to move to the island, due to his own upbringing in a small town, where he said he lost his father at a young age and grew to utilize parenting he received from the parents of his friends.
“I saw a lot of that need out here on Pine Island,” said Sherry. “I think over the years we’ve been able to develop much stronger family relationships out here — commitment to the children, not only for their education but extracurricular activities. For me to read in the paper each year the number of scholarships that are being bestowed upon young students is a wonderful thing. People supported me and I ended up getting a full scholarship to the University of Florida. There’s always a door if you want to walk through it.”
Sherry said having had a background in sports influenced him a great deal to help begin one of the island’s most treasured traditions, Pine Island Little League.
“It’s wonderful to see that it’s still flourishing and how much the parents and community are involved in maintaining the opportunity for these young people to participate in organized athletics,” said Sherry.
Being an integral part of the island for as long as Sherry has, has given him a bird’s eye view of many other islanders. He said he watched his regular UPS delivery driver grow into a man who is as courteous and polite now as he was at only 12 years old when he was playing for Pine Island Little League.
Regarding the recent pandemic, Sherry said the staff at each office has been careful to adhere to guidelines and regulations concerning social distancing, especially in an intimate profession such as dentistry, describing the dental garb as “close to hazmat” from ankle to headgear. Although many dental offices were closed this past spring, Sherry said Riverdale Dental remained open throughout the entire virus scare, servicing people from Sarasota to Marco Island who came to the island when they couldn’t find a dental office open and available to help them.
“We’ve had to keep up with the changes and the expectations,” said Sherry. “We’ve even brought in foggers to fog the entire office after every day, so we can begin fresh the next day, taking care of our community.”
Having started on Pine Island, Riverdale Dental has now grown into multiple offices throughout Southwest Florida, including locations in Fort Myers Shores, North Fort Myers, Buckingham, Lehigh Acres and Gateway.
Sherry said after all this time he’s still happy to be of service to the community.
“We are certainly committed to our Pine Island community and our amazing patients,” said Sherry.
Riverdale Dental Associates is at 10484 Stringfellow Road, Suite 3, St. James City, FL 33956. Call 239-449-8744 for additional information or an appointment.