LaPlace man gets all new teeth thanks to help from his friends

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 8, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – Eric “Nephew” Keating is a familiar face at Bully’s Halfway House lounge on Highway 51 in LaPlace.

But lately he is showing off an even happier face than before.

That is due to the generosity of a handful of local businessmen, who got together and decided to do something nice for Keating for Christmas.

Keating is known to all who frequent Bully’s, as he has worked there for six-and-a-half years at the bar, and shucking oysters.

But those who knew Keating also knew he had slowly lost almost every tooth in his mouth over the years due to some medical problems he endured.

Just before Christmas last year, St. John Sheriff Wayne Jones got together with several friends and decided to help Keating get his teeth back.

“Nephew is such a good guy, who all like him a lot, and we knew there was nothing better we could do for him besides give him some teeth,” Jones said. “We talked about it, and knew that in his job with the public, it’s really hard since he’s an outgoing guy, but it’s hard to not have a nice smile.”

Today Keating is smiling bigger than ever, with a full mouth of teeth created by Dr. Robert Ory Sr. of LaPlace.

Jones had agreed with friends Michael Woulfe, James Boucvalt and Pete Graffagnino that they would all put up $1,000 each to get the teeth for Keating. But in the end, thanks to the generosity of Ory, the job was done for only $1,200 since Ory took it on as a charitable case of his own.

“Dr. Ory is such a class guy, and when we told him what we wanted to do and asked what it would cost, he said he would do it just for the cost of the materials. He did all the labor for free and even donated some of the materials as well. It just shows what kind of person he is,” Jones said.

Ory said he had to pull the remaining eight to 10 teeth, which were only fragments here or there in Keating’s mouth, before creating the teeth that now all look brand new.

“Eric is such a personable guy that it was rewarding for me to get to help on this,” Ory said. “Wayne and his friends really deserve the credit for this since they were the ones who came up with the idea, and were willing to put up all the money for it.”

As for Keating, age 50 who has lived in St. John Parish all his life, he said he was stunned when told about the offer.

“When they told me, I just put my head down and started crying,” Keating said. “And I told them I would probably cry some more later too. This touched me in my heart when they told me what they were going to do for me.”

Keating had worked in construction much of his life, but neglected his teeth most of his life due to finances. Then when he got in a serious auto accident years ago, the pain medication he was forced to take for many years began to make his teeth rot out.

“I couldn’t eat what I wanted, and with my teeth looking like that, I never was able to get married or have kids either,” Keating said. “Now maybe that will change. In the past, if I saw a good looking girl, I figured I’d never have a chance with her since people just wouldn’t talk to me because of my teeth. Now I feel so much better about myself.”

Jones said that when he first approached Ory about trying to fix Keating’s teeth, he had suggested trying to get him set up with LSU Dental. But Ory was the one who didn’t want Keating to go through a long and rigorous appointment schedule that he might get tired of.

“Instead, Dr. Ory just offered to do it,” Jones said. “He and his son did the entire thing just to help out. That was pretty nice.”

Keating, who only finished through the 11th grade at Leon Godchaux High School, said he hopes the new look might help him improve all aspects of his life, from finding a woman, to getting a better job.