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Oral surgeon had eyes on Vail for years

SHANNON ARMSTRONG
Special to the Daily Dr. Garel
ALL |

For Dr. Jim Garel, a new oral surgeon servicing Eagle and Summit counties, getting the pieces to fall into place so he could practice oral surgery in the High Country has been a lifelong dream come true, he says. As a Denver native he has skied Vail nearly every winter since the resort opened in 1963, but until now the timing has not been right for him to actually live in the mountains where he learned to ski at the age of 10, Garel says. “You could say it’s kind of like finally coming home,” he says. Garel will be practicing in Summit County on Tuesdays, when he sees patients in Dr. Ron Gilligan’s office in the Vista Professional Building in Frisco. Garel sees patients by appointment and can be reached at (970) 569-3055.

Finally timeIn 1988 when he and his wife bought a condominium in East Vail, they looked into moving here full time. Sixteen years ago though, the valley didn’t have the population to support an oral surgery practice. Ten years later in 1998, the valley had grown significantly and the oral surgeon living in Vail at the time was leaving for personal reasons. Garel had just moved to Denver to begin working with a new surgery group.”I had committed to them and to leave then would have left them in a bind,” says Garel. In the meantime Dr. Craig Schmidtke set up practice in Edwards. For the past four years he was the valley’s only oral surgeon. Then last spring, Schmidtke and his wife felt the need to move back to Atlanta to be closer to family and his wife’s ailing father. “Craig and I have known each other for quite a while so when he called to see if I was still interested in relocating to the mountains, I jumped at the opportunity,” Garel says. “I told him to look no further. I wanted the job.”

The timing was finally right.Mountain commutesGarel earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder and his dental degree from CU Medical Center in Denver. He completed his internship and residency in Kansas City where he met his wife, Janie, to whom he has been married for 27 years. After completing dental school he and Janie moved to Cheyenne, Wyo., where he practiced for 15 years and Janie worked as an interior decorator. In 1988 daughter Lisa was born, and the family bought a condominium in East Vail and began commuting to Vail to ski on weekends. “It sounds like a longer drive than it really was,” Garel says. “It became a routine and we all got used to it.”

Commuting to the mountains every weekend became part of Lisa’s life at an early age, and she quickly adopted her parents’ passion for skiing. Since she can remember, she’s been involved with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.In 1998, when Lisa was racing and ski training more and more in Vail, a job opportunity in Denver opened up and Garel moved his practice to Denver, cutting the family’s weekend commute to the mountains by an hour. Lisa, who’s now a junior in high school at Highland Hills High School in Denver, is a member of the Evergreen High School ski team and is an avid field hockey and lacrosse player. She says she’d move to Vail in a second if these sports existed in the valley for girls, but for now she’s content to keep ski racing for Evergreen and driving up on the weekends.”Having my family in Denver and me up here during the week has been a bit of an adjustment for all of us,” Garel says. “But to live in this beautiful valley and have so much outdoor activity at our fingertips – well, it’s wonderful, a dream come true.”In addition to skiing, Garel says he and his wife enjoy road biking, golf and the arts.


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