The Questa Dental Center has been here a long time. Many old-timers remember the building at 2451 Hwy 522 when it housed Harold’s Auto Parts, owned by the late Harold Kahn. And now it’s Dr. Jameson’s building, where he has been providing dental services to Questenos for the past 38 years. His primary practice and residence is in Santa Fe.
The dental clinic was first started by two Taos dentists, who opened a branch practice here and saw patients two days per week. In 1983, they hired Dr. Keith D. Jameson, DDS to run the practice, right out of dental school. Eventually, the two founding dentists closed the business and Dr. Jameson bought the building, and has been there ever since. He built the Questa Dental Center and launched the Diamond A Dental Lab, where dentures and crowns were made, right here in Questa. In the 1980s, many Questa families had excellent dental insurance through the mine.
Dr. Jameson is a self-described military brat; his father was a dentist in the Air Force and later worked for the Public Health Service. Keith graduated from Santa Fe High School and received his bachelors and masters in philosophy at UNM. No surprise that after graduate school he found himself to be an unemployed philosopher. He decided to follow in the senior Dr. Jameson’s footsteps and go to dental school
New Mexico does not have a dental school, so UNM has an arrangement with the University of Kansas Dental School in Kansas City, Missouri. Every year UKKC accepts ten dental students from New Mexico and in turn, UNM Medical School accepts ten medical students from Missouri. Dr. Jameson said all the students from New Mexico hung out together and ate chile.
A near deadly case of meningitis forced him to close his Santa Fe office. Out of commission for a year (including two months in a coma), he really thought he would die. Gradually, he started improving, and eventually went back to work in Questa two days a week. Luckily, he has suffered no long-term effects. Dr. Jameson thinks he came out of the illness smarter, but his family doesn’t agree.
Dr. Jameson’s staff consists of hygienist Katrina Gonzales, dental assistant Michelle Pacheco, and office manager Janet Martinez, who has been with the practice for 37 years. Janet started as a dental assistant under their first office manager, Marveene Anderson. Besides helping him build the business, Marveene also made lunch for the dentist every day. “She spoiled me,” said the doctor, “Those Texans know how to cook!” When Marveene retired, Janet stepped into the position and has been running the office ever since. After Marveene’s lunch services were gone, Dr. Jameson turned to Wildcat Den’s Frito pies at least once a week. He missed the Wildcats Den immediately when they closed down after 40 years, “They made the best Frito pies anywhere,” says he.
When Dr. Jameson opened the Questa dental office, he had a fish tank in his waiting room. That is how the “Questa Zoo” got started. Soon the collection of animals grew to 80 species and took up the entire northern half of the building. These animals included a kinkajou, sometimes known as a South American Monkey, which is actually a member of the racoon family, and two Burmese pythons named Oprah and Geraldo. One of the most popular residents of the zoo was a ferret named Frank who lived to be about 13 years old. The zoo was eventually named after him, “The Franklin Memorial Zoo.” The Questa Zoo was featured in the July 2005 New Mexico Magazine and in various New Mexico newspapers. After the dentist’s bout with meningitis, the Questa Zoo was closed and the animals found other homes. Dr. Jameson still has his 21-year-old pound mutt, Curly.
Most of the summer, Dr. Jameson spends time at his ranch near Questa. During the winter, it is less treacherous to drive in from Santa Fe. Commuting every week, he has put a lot of miles on his Mustangs. His first was a 1988 Mustang, customized at the factory as a police chase car, and has been driving Mustangs ever since. He even has a 4-wheel drive Mustang that his buddy built. You might see Dr. Jameson around town in his Mustang convertible, with the top down, even in snow flurries.
Check out the friendly folks at the Questa Dental Center, located at 2451 NM 522 in Questa. The office is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. They take most dental insurance. Please call (575) 586-0259.