VOL. 133 | NO. 167 | Thursday, August 23, 2018
Heros Receives Top Honor from TDA
By Michael Waddell
Giving back to the local community that has given him so much just comes naturally for dentist Dr. Fernando “Fred” Heros, who was recently honored with the Jack Wells Memorial Dedication to Dentistry Award, the highest recognition from the Tennessee Dental Association. “It’s an incredible award, and receiving it is one of the highlights of my life,” Heros said. “I’m so proud.”
The Jack Wells Memorial Dedication to Dentistry Award recognizes quality practice, service to organized dentistry, contribution to dental education, and humanitarian service.
“Dr. Fred Heros exemplifies dedication to dentistry,” said TDA executive director Mike Dvorak. “From serving the underserved as a volunteer dentist to serving his profession as president of the Tennessee Dental Association, Dr. Heros has been a leader in meeting the oral health needs of Tennesseans and encouraging the highest standard of practice in dentistry. He has been inspiration to all of us and is much beloved by his colleagues.”
Memphis dentist Dr. Fred Heros was recently honored by the Tennessee Dental Association. Originally from Cuba, he has worked as a dentist in Memphis for the past 40 years. (Daily News/Jim Weber)
In 1959, Heros came to the U.S. from Havana, Cuba, at age 9 with his family, and within five years they had become U.S. citizens.
“It’s one of those situations where we had had enough of Castro, and my dad knew where Cuba was probably going,” he said. “We were a middle-class family, and we left everything without anything. I think they let my dad carry 5 dollars out. We came to the United States, and lucky for us, they opened their arms.”
Despite achievements in the dental world, he considers becoming an American his greatest accomplishment.
“I really mean that from the bottom of my heart,” he said. “This country gave us an opportunity when we didn’t know where our next day was going to come from.”
The family moved to Memphis in 1964 after his father had worked at Western State Hospital in Boliver as a psychiatrist for two years.
“Originally our family wanted to get together here in Memphis because it’s a big medical town and there are a lot of opportunities,” Heros said. “I had an uncle who was a neurosurgeon, and he practiced here.”
While in college at Memphis State University, Heros served in the U.S. Army, achieving the rank of 1st lieutenant. He received his pre-dental education at the university and then graduated from the UT College of Dentistry.
Memphis dentist Dr. Fred Heros tends to Christina Belue’s crowns while seeing patients at his office on Covington Pike. Originally from Cuba, Heros has worked as a dentist in Memphis for the past 40 years. (Daily News/Jim Weber)
Since then he has served the dental needs of Memphians from his location on Covington Pike Road in Bartlett.
His extensive volunteer work over the years includes regularly donating time to the Church Health Center, the Baptist mobile clinic and the annual Mission to Mercy.
“Dr. Heros has made a profound impact on our Church Health patients, staff and volunteer providers,” said Jenny Bartlett-Prescott, senior director of integrated health at Church Health. “He has served on our Dental Advisory Board, helped recruit other dental professionals and gone above and beyond for our patients. He understands our mission and has a huge heart for what we do. It’s no surprise he’s earned this recognition from the Tennessee Dental Association.”
For his dedication to the local community over the years, Heros has also received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award and the Humanitarian Award from the Memphis Dental Society, and he has been inducted into the International College of Dentists and the Pierre Fauchard Academy.
He credits his career in dentistry to his father, who was primarily a pediatrician.
“He was really my mentor, and he just guided me to the field,” Heros said. “I was not as dedicated as my father to his profession, which often kept him up around the clock. I thought dentistry was good for me because I wasn’t going to stay up for 24 hours doing anything. So I chose dentistry because I thought it was more convenient, and I like treating people.”
For the past 40-plus years, Heros has most enjoyed meeting new people every day and helping to get them out of pain. His goals for his practice moving forward include staying current with changing technology.
“I’m someone who keeps up with technology. I like gadgets, and I like to keep up with the times,” he said. “Everything we have is state-of-the-art. If you come here, you’re in a pretty futuristic office.”
Away from the office, Heros is a racquetball enthusiast. At 68 years old, he still plays three times a week, and three years ago he was ranked No. 1 in the nation in his age division.