The dental practice that Dr. W. Baxter Perkinson Jr. started more than 40 years ago dominates the Richmond market. Virginia Family Dentistry has 11 offices and more than 300 employees.
But Perkinson, a successful businessman, prolific watercolor artist, active Virginia Commonwealth University alumnus and generous philanthropist, gets some of his biggest kudos for being a good boss.
This year Perkinson was selected for special recognition in the annual Top Workplaces awards presented by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in partnership with WorkplaceDynamics. Perkinson was one of four business leaders selected for the honor, above and beyond the accolades for his practice, which was selected as a Top Workplace for midsize companies.
One noteworthy company perk is an annual trip offered to employees with at least a year of service. The practice has earned Top Workplace honors two years in a row — first place in 2014 and second place in 2015.
A 1970 graduate of VCU's School of Dentistry, Perkinson has never really separated from the school, where a building bears his name and he has served as an adjunct clinical professor.
His service to the university also includes stints on the VCU board of visitors, the VCU Health System Authority board of directors and the VCU Dental School board, and as rector.
Former VCU President Eugene Trani has described Perkinson as working “shoulder to shoulder” with him in creating what is now known as VCU Health, a massive enterprise of academic medicine and patient care.
Throughout the university’s hallways and adorning walls throughout the community are Perkinson’s works of art. He donates pieces to nonprofits to be auctioned off in fundraisers.
In November, Perkinson was recognized as volunteer of the year by the central Virginia chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He was nominated by VCU and Trinity Episcopal School — both beneficiaries of his generosity.
IN HIS WORDS
Alternate profession or course of study
I’ve wanted to be a dentist since I was 12 years old. When I was a poor boy with many dental problems, I went to the MCV dental clinic, which was essentially free. I loved the students and faculty who helped me. This made me want to be a dentist. At 25, I was practicing dentistry and have loved every minute of it. At age 70, I still work full time, and it is my favorite thing to do. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Learning to be an artist as an adult and finding a way to use my art to help the community.
I love to read American history. Reading is my favorite pastime, even more than painting. I love the nonfiction book channel on C-Span2. I’d say "Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant" is my favorite book. My favorite movie is "The Patriot" starring Mel Gibson.
Something that might surprise others
People would be surprised how much I enjoy sleeping and napping. They think I never stop, but resting is a big part of my daily life.
Many people have mentored me in different phases of my life. I’d say my father was the most special role model because he taught me the value of hard work and giving back to the community.
A small moment in life with a big impact
The moment I came up with the nerve to ask my wife, Elaine, for a date. She became my wife, helped me through dental school, has supported me for over 50 years, gave me my children and grandchildren, and is my best friend. That moment she said yes changed my life.
Something you’d like to do
I have always done what I really wanted to do and don’t feel I have any need to do something new. If I did, I would do it.
Favorite thing about Richmond region
I’ve lived in Richmond my whole life. I’ve never been away from Richmond for more than two weeks at a time. I have no comparison, and love and am satisfied with everything about Richmond. It has also been very good to me and my family.
W. BAXTER PERKINSON JR.
Position: founder, Virginia Family Dentistry
Born/hometown: Feb. 13, 1945; Petersburg
College: University of Richmond, Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry
Family: wife Elaine, four children, eight grandchildren (and one on the way)