Sask. man remembered for starting dental clinic in 'tough part' of Puerto Vallarta

A Saskatchewan man is being remembered for starting a dental clinic in Mexico for people in need.

Now, the clinic has been renamed in his memory.

Darryl Derksen grew up in Langham, Sask. His brother, Brian Derksen, said he was always involved in different volunteer opportunities and worked as an owner at Glenmore Equipment in Prince Albert. 

After he retired, Darryl and his wife Glenda bought a condo in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. They were heavily involved before Darryl died of cancer this past Spring. 

"If you knew Darryl at all — he wasn't going to do really well at retirement," Brian said with a laugh. "He's a guy who likes to stay busy."

Health and Spirit Medical Group/Facebook

In Puerto Vallarta, Darryl started teaching English as a second language and began helping local families. One day he was sitting by the pool and overheard a conversation. 

"This lady was talking about this idea of building a dental clinic in this certain part of Puerto Vallarta," Brian said. "And pretty soon — he was running with it."

Darryl loved the local people and wanted to spend his time helping them.

This is just in a tough part of Puerto Vallarta — just a very, very poor poverty stricken poor area — this is something that's really going to make a difference. - Brian Derksen

Darryl raised money through charities to purchase the proper equipment and started recruiting dentists to volunteer. He wasn't able to find many local dentists so he started recruiting Canadian dentists, Brian said. 

More dentists followed after Dr. Harold Gretzinger from Ontario got involved and kept recruiting, Brian said. They named the clinic the Health and Spirit Medical Group.

Darryl often told Brian about the dental clinic but it wasn't until he saw it in person that Brian realized how important it would be. 

"This is in a tough part of Puerto Vallarta — just a very, very poor, poverty-stricken area," Brian said. "This is something that's really going to make a difference."

Health and Spirit Medical Group/Facebook

A number of people involved in the dental clinic came to Saskatchewan for the funeral. Then the Derksen family was surprised the clinic was renamed 'Clinica Derksen.'

"I was elated. I thought it was a perfect tribute to him," Brian said.

"For him, enjoying retirement was committing a lot of time to this clinic," Brian said. "I'd seen how proud he was and how passionate he was about it."

Health and Spirit Medical Group/Facebook

Brian was able to visit the clinic a couple weeks ago and speak to Dr. Gretzinger about the clinic's future. A charity is helping bring in funds for the clinic and soon they'll have enough for the next five years. As well, the Derksen family is providing half of the operating costs, Brian said. 

The next steps will be to raise funds for capital costs and decide on a long-term plan to sustain the clinic.

"That's very important to us. Just knowing how much work went into creating it, it would be very disappointing if we didn't find a way to sustain it," he said.