Retired dentist Bruce Carlson is hosting “Celebrate Lansing” as a thank you to the community for years of loyal support

Thanking the community ... Dr. Bruce Carlson, who retired this past year from his long-time dentistry practice in Lansing, is pictured above with a patient from “quite some time ago.” As a way of showing his appreciation to Lansing and the surrounding community for supporting him for his 42-year career in the little river town, Dr. Carlson is hosting a “Celebrate Lansing” event this Saturday, October 9. Submitted photo.

Free event scheduled for this Saturday to feature food and live music

by Julie Berg-Raymond

Long-time Lansing dentist Bruce Carlson, who retired last year, is throwing a party - and everyone is invited.

As a way of saying “thank you” for 42 years of patronage - “I’m thanking the community for kind of putting up with me,” he says - Carlson is hosting “Celebrate Lansing” this Saturday, October 9, from 1-6 p.m., at the Lansing Sports Complex. There is no admission charge for the event, which includes live music (Freaks of Nature performs at 1 p.m., followed by Joe and Vicki Price) and on-site food vendors. Attendees are invited to bring their own beverages; all alcohol must stay within the Sports Complex fence.

Carlson says he fell in love with this area the first time he drove into Lansing, in 1977.

“I can still see it,” he recalls. “I was driving down Lansing Harpers Road, and the Driftless Area spoke to me - and I listened.”

Originally from Ames, Carlson lived in Norway before going to dental school in Iowa City. For awhile, he thought he might want to become a competitive skier; but one thing he knew for sure was that “I really didn’t want to live in a city.”

Carlson was 25 and still in dental school when he first came to Lansing. He met up with Lansing’s (aptly named) dentist, Roger Brush. “He was swamped,” Carlson recalls. Brush, who had been practicing in town since 1974, was working at the time out of an office above the present-day Gundersen Clinic on Main Street. He and Carlson formed a partnership and hired a contractor to remodel a building Brush owned - the building out of which Carlson practiced for 42 years - and Carlson joined his practice in 1978; he bought the practice in 1984.

Over the course of the next four-plus decades, Carlson says, he came to think of his dental patrons - and of the entire community - as family. “Lansing was so welcoming to me,” he says. “I wasn’t a member of the Lions Club or of a church, and I didn’t have any kids. I never felt ostracized.”

Carlson retired last year and sold his building and practice to Heather and Eric Moellers, who run Moellers & Moellers dental offices in Lansing and Decorah. Having “shadowed” Carlson five years earlier, Eric approached Carlson in January 2020. “Eric said, ‘Do you remember me? I want to buy you out,’”

Carlson recalls. “I was going to retire that July, anyway,” he says - and he liked the idea of Lansing continuing to have a local dental practice.

According to the couple’s website (, Heather - originally from Waterloo - earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and German at the University of Iowa. Later, she earned a Doctorate in Dental Surgery, with a Public Health Distinction. “Her emphasis on public health while in dental school helped her to earn a scholarship from the National Health Service Corps. Following graduation, Heather worked for about three years in a very remote part of far northern Wisconsin.”

Eric - originally from Davenport - attended the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. “He pursued his B.S. in biology and then studied dentistry at the University of Iowa. After getting married and working together for three years in Wisconsin, Eric and Heather moved to Decorah and opened Moellers & Moellers Family Dentistry together. Heather and Eric now have a little girl named Nancy Lou and are glad to be near friends and family. They look forward to a long career here and hope to provide a valued service to the community.”

Moellers & Moellers team includes Lori Soukup, who started dental assisting in 1980 at the Lansing Dental Clinic for Carlson. “Lori was a huge key to the way the practice ran,” Carlson says. “I really want to thank her for that.” Soukup is currently working at the Moellers’ dental office in Decorah. Lori lives south of Ridgeway with her husband, Larry. They have four grown children and six grandchildren. Lori enjoys spending time with family.

Although he initially thought of the “Celebrate Lansing” event as a way of welcoming Eric and Heather to the community, Carlson says he wanted to expand on that. “Others have also started new businesses in town, showing confidence in our community enough to invest their time and money into businesses that further strengthen our Main Street,” he says. “Keeping Lansing Main Street vibrant is what will help us moving forward into the future. I want to encourage and thank those who have made this commitment to our community, and to welcome them to Main Street.”

Among the new businesses being welcomed, he notes, are Driftless Integrative Psychiatry (Erica Burger); Gourmet Traveler; and Lansing Office Works; among others.

From the start, Carlson knew music was going to be a part of the event - because, he says, it has a way of bringing people together that few other things do. “When there’s music, and you’re not talking, and you’re moving to the sounds of the Driftless, any divisiveness just seems to fall away,” he says. “Music brings people who don’t always think alike, to the dance floor.”

For Carlson - who first fell in love with the area on a drive down Lansing Harpers Road, when he heard the Driftless speak to him - his affection for this place is not rooted in the landscape, beautiful as it is. “The reason I stay, is the people,” he says.