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Durham Dentist Refuses To Let Drug Dealers Ruin His Practice

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DURHAM, N.C. — A single act of vandalism destroyed a Durham man's business. Instead of giving into fear, he is now more determined than ever.

Dr. Curtis Bowens has been practicing in Durham since 1964, but for the last two years, he has been working out of someone else's office. Police say drug dealers burned down his Linwood Avenue office building in 1998.

"I really felt like I lost a part of my life," he says.

When most people look at his place, they only see an old abandoned building, but Bowens has a different vision.

"I see hope. I really do," he says. "I see a medical center. I see a medical center on that site."

Bowens plans to move back into the old neighborhood. He says he is determined not to let the bad guys get the best of him.

"I feel now that Durham needs me because all the old soldiers are dead, and we have a new battle to fight," he says. "If I can make an impression on those kids who will be citizens of tomorrow, maybe I can change them a little bit."

Some people may tell him he is crazy, but many of his patients are not surprised by his desire to return.

"He's a person who's dedicated to what he's doing, and he's determined as well," says patient Lee Smith.

The poem, "A Child with a Dream," still hangs on the outside of the old building today and serves as a reminder that Bowens is not about to give up on his dreams or his community. No arrests were ever made in the fire. Bowens hopes to get the project going sometime in May.

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