Local dentist dies in cycling accident

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

By Kara Coleman

A local dentist was killed in a cycling accident Monday morning on Bryant Station Road in Culleoka, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol report.

Dr. Ponder Laray Rector, 55, of Columbia, was riding a bicycle along Bryant Station Road at 6:22 a.m. Monday when a vehicle driven by Brittney Hutt, 25, of Columbia struck it, the report said.

Rector was riding with another cyclist, said Maury County Fire Chief Richard Schatz. He said the other cyclist was not involved in the accident.

Hutt's vehicle was driving through a curve on the road, which parallels Interstate 65, when it hit Rector, the report said.

Rector was pronounced dead on the scene, Schatz said. The report did not say whether Rector was wearing a helmet.

Rector's practice, Lewisburg Smiles, was closed Monday. A staff member at the office told The Daily Herald she could not comment on the incident, but members of the community were visiting the office throughout the day to express condolences.

Rector was a deacon at Graymere Church of Christ for more than 20 years, the church's Education and Involvement Minister Wendell Robinson said Monday.

"He was a very active Bible teacher and a very compassionate man," Robinson said. "He helped a lot of people behind the scenes. He was not one to be showy about what he did. He just wanted to help people and to serve."

A message on the church's answering machine informed callers of Rector's death and said the family has requested no calls or visits at this time.

Rector's son, Evan Rector, 27, of Brentwood, was critically injured in September after the Kawasaki EX5 motorcycle he was driving collided with a car on Campbellsville Pike, according to The Daily Herald archives.

Dr. Rector had been practicing dentistry since 1985, according to his website, lewisburgsmiles.com. He was the top graduate in his class at West Virginia School of Dentistry and a member of the Omicron Upsilon National Dental Honor Society.

"Dr. Rector was the recipient of awards from several organizations including the Academy of General Dentistry, the Academy of Operative Dentistry, and the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology," the site stated. "(He) is a member of the Tennessee Chapter of the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the Academy of Laser Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the American Dental Association."

Rector has been married to his wife Susan since 1980. Together they had two sons, Evan and Alex, the website said.

Lewisburg residents were reeling with the news of Rector's death Monday.

"I'm just devastated and staggered by what happened today," said Mike Keny, who said he knew Rector both professionally and personally. "It's one of those things that when someone tells you what happened, you think, 'That can't be true."'

Missie Haislip said several members of her family were patients of Rector's.

"We've gone through braces for my youngest (child) and dentures for my stepfather," Haislip said. "Generations of our family trusted him and his staff, and we are just going to dearly miss him. Our community has lost a wonderful man. We are in shock."

"It's not the kind of news we cyclists want to hear," exclaimed Lewisburg Mayor Jim Bingham, who is well known for riding his bike around town.

Rector's death is the fifth reported cyclist death in Tennessee in 2014, according to statistics maintained by the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. This compares with eight reported deaths in 2013.

Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home is in charge of Rector's arrangements, which were incomplete when the Tribune went to press.

Check www.marshalltribune.com for his obituary and funeral information.

Kara Coleman is a reporter with the Columbia Daily Herald. And reprinted by premission of the newspaper.