Whether James March ever intended dentistry to be the family business — or family tradition — is unknown.
But the late Dr. March was laying the groundwork for what has become the business that the March family name is synonymous with in Will County.
The Peotone family now is in its third generation — specifically 61 years — of providing dental care to residents of Peotone and the surrounding area now that Dr. James March's grandson recently joined the practice.
An open house is set for noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24, at March Family Dental Care, 517 S. Governors Highway in Peotone, to welcome the latest March to the practice, Dr. James March's grandson, the 27-year-old Dr. Edmund March.
James March, a veteran of the Army Air Force in World War II, sent out letters to communities as he neared his 1953 graduation from Loyola Dental School in Chicago. A Peotone physician, Dr. Lloyd Jessen, with room in his office building, answered the call. March began his dental practice in 1955.
"Once we moved here we were committed," said Dr. March's widow, Agnes March, 87. "He wanted to practice in a small town."
Peotone was indeed a small town. At that time, its population was about 1,500.
For the young couple from Chicago, Peotone felt like another world. "We didn't know anything existed beyond 63rd Street," she said.
It didn't take Peter March, 57, long to determine what he wanted to do. At about the time he reached junior high school, dentistry always was on his mind.
A member of the Peotone Village Board and a longtime member of the village's planning board, March said he saw the satisfying life his father led.
"I simply followed in his footsteps. That's what I wanted to do from the beginning. I've never regretted it."
A 1977 graduate of Peotone High School and a 1984 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Peter March never had the pleasure of working with his father in the dental practice. The elder March died in October 1983 from a brain tumor.
"I was always sad we missed that opportunity, but I am so glad to have had this time with my son," he said.
The practice on the village's southwestern edge now is a five-chair office with 10 employees. It has about 2,000 patients.
And it was a place that two of the three children of Peter and Elizabeth March always wanted to be a part of. In addition to Edmund, sister Allie Ellis, 30, of Manteno, is a dental hygienist. The March's eldest son, Jim, 31, is an aeronautical engineer for the Department of Defense.
"I guess he's the black sheep," Peter joked.
The young Dr. March, Edmund, is a 2007 graduate of the Illinois Math and Science Academy, then the University of Illinois followed in 2016 Midwestern University in Downers Grove, where he earned his dental medicine degree, before returning home.
Daughter Allie said she wouldn't want to be working anywhere else. "I knew a long time ago I wanted to be part of this practice. I began working here while I was in high school. It's never been difficult."
Will there be a fourth generation at the Peotone practice some day? Perhaps. Allie has two children.