Lying back on the dental chair in Dr. Asher Carey’s office, Judy Bennett was getting her teeth checked and cleaned during her biannual dentist appointment. What she regarded as an ordinary day during her sophomore year of high school turned into a pivotal moment for her — the day she chose her career path.
As Carey poked through her mouth, he described the dental hygiene field in detail, sparking Bennett’s interest.
“Dr. Carey suggested it and told me what it all involved, so I took him up on it, and that’s what I did,” Bennett said.
Now, Bennett has worked as a dental hygienist for almost 60 years.
For 54 of those years, Bennett has been a dental hygienist at Dr. Normand Steward’s office in Milford. From 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. each day, she cleans her patients’ teeth, takes X-rays of their mouths and educates them on dental health.
Bennett said the most worthwhile part of her job has been interacting with her patients. After treating generations of families, she said she has developed trustworthy relationships with them and believes they can confide in her.
Through conversations with her patients, Bennett said she learns something new every day. By listening to stories about their personal lives, she said, she has gained a more keen perspective on life and her job.
“I enjoy my patients,” Bennett said. “I like interacting with my patients and making them happy.”
Meanwhile, her husband, Edgar Bennett, has been active within his own profession, real estate, since he was about 35 years old. After starting his own company, Bennett Realty, Edgar Bennett worked as a Realtor for 38 years, until he retired last month.
During his typical workday, Edgar Bennett solicited property, called potential buyers and sold property and real estate.
“Buying and selling makes me happy,” Edgar Bennett said. “I love working on property.”
The main reason, Edgar Bennett said, that he stayed committed to real estate for numerous years was because he was working alongside his son, Durwood Bennett, who said that, as the Broker of Bennett Realty, his father inspired him to pursue the business.
“My dad was my role model, and it seemed like the right thing to do after college,” Durwood Bennett said.
After working in real estate for 33 years, Durwood Bennett said his father taught him everything he knows about the profession, and he said he aspires to possess the same working mentality as his father.
“He has a passion for helping others attain their dreams,” Durwood Bennett said. “He’s a very hard worker.”
After years of experience in their fields, the couple said they have enjoyed everything about their jobs, from the tasks to the people.
Although Judy Bennett has spent a majority of her career working in Milford, she worked in Selbyville as a dental hygienist for five years before switching to her current position.
Edgar Bennett also had other work experiences before launching Bennett Realty. For four years, he worked at a bank and then decided to work for another Realtor in Bethany Beach, which lasted five years.
Beyond lengthy careers, the couple also shares common roots. They both grew up in Delaware. Judy Bennett grew up in Millville and attended Lord Baltimore Elementary School in Ocean View for all 12 grades. For college, she graduated from Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene.
Growing up in Selbyville, Edgar Bennett went to elementary school in Roxana before attending middle school and high school in Selbyville. After taking courses at the University of Delaware for undergraduate school, he decided to leave early to travel.
Judy and Edgar Bennett currently reside in Middlesex Beach, and they said balancing their jobs with their personal and family lives has been manageable, despite their busy work schedules.
Reflecting on their work careers, the couple said their job experiences have been opportunities for personal growth and discovery, helping them strengthen their abilities and develop their interpersonal skills.
Judy Bennet said she is unsure when she will retire, but she said she wants to spread her enthusiasm about her job to those working in her field.
“My words of wisdom are, ‘Enjoy what you do,’” Judy Bennett said. “‘Have a nice working atmosphere, and interact with your patients.’”