Jesup community remembers retired dentist found in the Altamaha River

JESUP, GA (WTOC) - A drowning over the weekend on the Altamaha River claimed the life of a beloved retired dentist in Jesup.

This tragedy on the river took more than just a retired dentist but an extended member of many families across decades.

On Sunday, Dr. Gary Lewis disappeared on the Altamaha River. Searchers found his boat and found his body on Monday. The news hit friends and former patients in this small community.

"He was a great dentist. I was never scared to go as a child, very comforting. I never had any issues going to the dentist," a former patient, Dustin Dunham said.

Lewis retired a decade ago but served most Wayne County families for decades. Hugh Armstrong joined his practice a decade ago and bought it when Lewis retired.

"I learned valuable lessons from him about people, working with people, working on people. So, it was a passing of the baton," Dr. Armstrong said. "People loved him and loved to see him out in the community."

He says where and how Lewis died - drowning on the river - surprised many.

"It was shocking when you think he'd been at the river all his life. He loved that place and hunting and fishing there," Dr. Armstrong said.

"...just a freak accident. I know Gary had been in and out of the river hundreds and hundreds of times. An unfortunate incident and a gentleman that will be greatly missed," Jesup Mayor David Earl Keith said.

Dr. Armstrong says he and others will feel this loss for years and years to come.

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