Judy Flecknell (DDS’86) and Jeff Williams (DDS’86)

By Dawn Morrison

Judy Flecknell (DDS’86) and Jeff Williams (DDS’86) found their life’s passion in the Faculty of Dentistry; both in their careers and in each other.

Judy and Jeff first met as members of the Class of ’86 in the Faculty of Dentistry, within a small and close-knit class. “When we graduated, we parted as friends and went our separate ways. We reconnected 20 years later. Judy moved back to Nova Scotia in 2006 and we were married in 2009,” Jeff says. “We’ve been happily living and working together ever since.”

“Our classmates have often said to us ‘why didn’t you both do this 30 years ago?,’” he laughs. “I guess they knew something that we didn’t. Turns out their foresight was correct!”

The Class of ’86 remained close; organizing a reunion every year since the early 90s. “We pick the same weekend each summer to make it easy for everyone. We’re all busy, but it’s very important to all of us to make the time to reconnect,” he says. The couple even organized their wedding around a reunion weekend, so that more of their classmates could go. “We had 26 classmates and even a few faculty members attend our wedding,” Jeff says, proudly; a testament to the bonds of friendship the class maintains.

A solid foundation

The couple credit Dalhousie with providing a solid foundation for their lives and careers. That’s why they both wanted to provide a bequest in their will to support the Faculty of Dentistry.

“Dalhousie has always been a special place for both of us,” Judy says. “Even when I practised in Ontario for 20 years, I always enjoyed reading the Dalhousie Magazine and getting updates. I also donated to Dal over the years – less when I was starting out, and more as I got established. Dal has been instrumental to us, and we both felt strongly about giving back.”

Jeff also has been a consistent supporter of Dalhousie. “When I look in my life’s rearview mirror, those four years I spent in dental school at Dalhousie helped shape who I am,” Jeff says. “I think at that stage of my life, Dalhousie molded me. Dalhousie one of the reasons we both have been happy and successful. We’re proud to say we’re dentists and studied here.”

‘Life happens’

The couple feel strongly about legacy planning as a critical way to prepare for the future, and ensure their wishes are carried out. Now retired from practising dentistry, due to a hand injury, Jeff works as a consultant and dental practice appraiser. He says in his current role, he works mostly with people who are in a later stage in their careers.

“I’ve come to realize that unfortunately not everyone is always as prepared as they perhaps should be. Sometimes ‘life happens;’ a critical incident may occur that you never saw coming. It’s good to be prepared,” Jeff says. “Also, we don’t want others guessing our wishes; having that burden placed on family. We don’t want our sons to agonize over what we would have wanted.”

Given that Judy also had a career-ending disability, due to vision issues, remembering Dalhousie in their estate planning seemed like a logical choice for the couple, both of whom are now committed to helping others succeed.

“I come from a large family – I’m the eighth out of 10 kids, and I was the first one to go to university,” Judy says. “We didn’t have a lot of money, so I worked very hard to get through university and I appreciate the opportunities I had at Dalhousie. I hope to see other students get the same opportunities to succeed that I had.”

Jeff agrees. “Today’s students are facing many odds, especially deserving students who might not have the family resources in place for their education. If we can support these students and their goals and aspirations through a planned gift, that would make us very happy.”