Apollo dentist has passion for fixing teeth, borough
Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series that features Alle-Kiski Valley people and the notable things that they do.
Dr. John Kautz has helped the people of Apollo and beyond smile for more than five decades.
The dentist and current Apollo Council president established his first practice in the borough in 1961.
“I wanted to do something related to medicine,” he said. “The more I looked into it, dentistry sounded like something I would be interested in. You not only prescribe medicines, but you work with your hands and make things.
“I’m still doing it.”
Kautz — 83 — moved to Apollo that year with his wife, Bonnie, after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine. They’ve been married 61 years and have three children and six grandchildren.
“My wife and I were hunting for a place where we could have a family,” Kautz said. “(Apollo) looked like a good place. We both grew up in small towns. That was a thing that we wanted.”
The pair met while they attended Alderson Broaddus College in Philippi, W. Va. Kautz was a history major and she studied nursing. He transferred to Pitt and Bonnie received a master’s in nursing from Alderson. She continues to occasionally help out at the dentist’s office.
Kautz started his first practice in 1961 at 125 N. Plaza before being selected to become a military dentist. He served in the Army from February 1962 through April 1964, reaching the rank of captain.
“The Berlin and Cuban (Missile) Crisis came up and they were taking dentists into the military,” he said. “I was told I either come into the military or they draft me as a private. The choice wasn’t hard to make.”
He went through orientation at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas and was later stationed at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga.
Kautz was never deployed overseas and said there was no major difference working as a military dentist compared to private practice.
“You just took care of the people that were sent to your dental clinic and under your care,” he said. “It was a pretty good experience. You had an officer that was head of the clinic and a colonel who was over the whole dental corps.”
Kautz moved his civilian office in 1970 to 401 N. Second St. in Apollo and has been there ever since.
Tell your kid: Dentist isn’t the boogie man
He said people either love or hate going to the dentist.
“Sometimes it starts in childhood if they have discomfort with their teeth. I think when you’re talking to your child, don’t make the dentist (into) a boogie man. When you talk with a child about a dentist, keep it positive. You want to keep your teeth and take care of them so you don’t have problems.”
Kautz recommended adults see the dentist at least every six months, and children should have their first visit before age 2.
When he’s not fixing teeth, he is fixing Apollo with other borough officials.
Kautz was appointed to council in January 2014 to fill a two-year vacancy. He’s in the last year of his first four-year term; he hasn’t decided whether to run for re-election.
Kautz said his council highlights include improvements to Owens Grove Park and multiple paving projects.
“I feel that the people of Apollo have been good to me and my family,” he said, “and I’m glad I’m able to give back a little bit.”
Looking for remarkable ‘Faces’
Do you know an Alle-Kiski Valley resident who has a notable skill, talent or accomplishment? Or someone who has performed volunteer work for an extended period?Someone whose effort sticks out and deserves recognition? Please contact staff writer Michael DiVittorio at [email protected] or 412-871-2367.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .