Blending His Passions for Good

By Marianne Sampogna Jacobson

Dr. Doug Yarris ’83 is boundless in his energy and proud of the wonderful life he has created—combining his many passions for good: dentistry, golf, wine, entertainment and philanthropy. Dr. Janet Andrews Howes ’83, past president Dugoni School Foundation board, shared, “As a classmate, Doug was known as generous, kind, a good student and enthusiastic about life, and he is still the same today.”

Raised in Napa, California, when it was still a small town, his first job—at age 12—was working at the driving range during the golden era at Silverado Country Club. The job proved to be a formative chapter in his life. He discovered his natural aptitude for golf, but more significantly, as he moved on to roles as bellman and driver, he was lucky to experience his own personal “TED Talks” with dozens of CEOs. In what he describes as the “best learning experience in my life,” he was privileged to gain insights about reaching one’s potential from these successful people. Golf has remained a big part of his life, including being recruited to play at Stanford University in the 1970s. Yarris admits he “loves the people you meet in golf even more than playing the game.”

Yarris was fortunate to have a number of diverse mentors in his life: his dad, pro golfers Johnny Miller and Arnold Palmer, CEOs and coaches. The passion his father, Dr. Raymond Yarris ’56, had for serving his patients and community inspired Yarris. He saw firsthand a profession in which you get to know and help generations of families. It was this humanistic career that drew Yarris to dentistry. During college, Yarris followed his father’s advice to volunteer at the UCSF mobile dental clinic. This and other community service activities were pivotal experiences as he truly realized how much he enjoyed helping others.

Yarris was always a straight-A student, and academics came before being an athlete. When it was time to decide whether to play professional golf after graduating from Stanford or embark on dental school, he chose dentistry and the Dugoni School, and has never looked back. Yarris reflects that his dental school experience was truly special and he was part of a family, led by former Dean Arthur A. Dugoni ’48 who later become a close, personal friend.

Like his passion for golf, Yarris’ commitment to giving back through both service and financial support plays a significant role in his life. He has volunteered at dental clinics for underprivileged children for decades. He often brought his son Travis to those volunteer events, where Travis assisted and also gained the love of helping others. Travis went on to attend the Dugoni School of Dentistry, making it three generations of Yarris men to graduate from the dental school.

Yarris has had the opportunity to practice dentistry first with his father Raymond and now with his son, Dr. Travis Yarris ’18, which has brought him much joy and pride. Similar to Yarris, who introduced new techniques to his father Raymond’s practice in Crockett, California, Travis is now bringing technology and specialization in implant dentistry to Yarris Family Dental, their practice in Napa.

Yarris also gives back to his communities by serving as a member of both the Stanford Athletic Board and the Dugoni School Foundation, which raise significant funding for students and university projects. He is energized by these efforts. “I am inspired by the brilliant and passionate people I am surrounded by.” Additionally, he has contributed significantly to the Dugoni School of Dentistry and its patients with his tireless commitment to fundraising for the school and by chairing and supporting both the Vino de Mayo Wine Auction and Kids in the Klinic Golf Classic for many years. Joanne Fox, director of the Alumni Association, adds, “Doug’s allegiance to the Dugoni School and Stanford University, including his cheerful philanthropy of time, contributions and wine donations, are part of his being.” Yarris even assists golf coaches at local schools in Napa and informally mentors young people who are interested in dentistry, Stanford or golf.

In his not-so-secret penchant for show business, Yarris has served as the on-call dentist for productions such as Nash Bridges, Sphere, Eat Pray Love and Desperate Housewives, as well as for the Oakland Raiders football training camp. And he is an executive producer of an upcoming film about families’ best times spent together in Napa written by his cousin Kevin Yarris. Despite his active life, Doug and his wife Tiffani, along with their business partner and winemaker Charles Hendricks, operate hope & grace winery in Yountville, which they founded 23 years ago. The winery fits in Yarris’ overall life strategy to give back… by hosting events and donating wine to fundraisers. In his self-proclaimed role as brand ambassador, he shares his love of good wine with his many contacdts at Stanford and in the Hollywood and golf communities.

Yarris’ energy remains strong and contagious, with no plans to retire soon and with much he still wants to accomplish. He is highly enthusiastic about working with Travis and the new technology and evolutions in their field. Travis echoes that his dad “brings a unique positive and consistent vibe to everything he does.”

Yarris believes that dentistry is the best field one can possibly choose, and advises new grads that “you should give back because you will feel better about yourself and be part of a legacy.” Yarris remains eager to stay involved and to contribute more, including working on ways to enhance the Dugoni School Annual Fund, bringing back a reimagined Kids in the Klinic golf fundraiser, producing his first film and perhaps playing on the Senior PGA tour.

Marianne Sampogna Jacobson, BA, MBA, is a freelance writer from Marin County.