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Class of 1960 (Prosthodontics)

In Memoriam


Dale Smith

Dr. Dale Elwood Smith passed away peacefully on Feb. 27, 2013 at his home in Lake Forest Park, Wash. He was 87. A memorial service was held on March 23 at University Congregational United Church of Christ in Seattle. A private family service was held on March 25 at Tahoma National Cemetery.

Dr. Smith was a former director of UW’s Graduate Prosthodontics Program (1980-86) and a member of the Department of Prosthodontics from 1972 until his retirement in 1992.

He was born on Nov. 23, 1925 to Charles R. and Margaret A. (Ritter) Smith in Blain, Pa. His father was a high school principal and his mother was a teacher and homemaker. He had two younger sisters. Dr. Smith was 16 when his father died of a heart attack.

He graduated from Blain High School in 1943 as valedictorian of his class. Later that year, he was inducted into the U.S. Army, where he served as a military police officer in the 10th Mountain Division in Italy during World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star.

Soon after coming home, he married the love of his life, Rhobie Charlotte Stambaugh, in Blain on Christmas Day 1946. He attended Shippensburg State College, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Dentistry, from which he received a DDS degree cum laude in 1952. Later that year, he joined the U.S. Public Health Service as a dental intern in Staten Island, NY. There, the Smiths welcomed the first and second of their four children, Laurie and Jerry. In 1954, the family moved to Indiana, Pa., where he practiced general dentistry for two years and daughter Gretchen was born.

Rejoining the Public Health Service in 1956, Dr. Smith and his family moved to New Orleans, where they welcomed daughter Jennifer. Dr. Smith practiced prosthodontics and taught at Loyola University. The family came to Seattle in 1960, when he began a residency in prosthodontics at the USPHS Hospital on Beacon Hill and Two years later, he earned his MSD degree and Prosthodontics certification from the UW.

He served at the hospital for 20 years, receiving the Commendation Medal for Outstanding Service in the Commissioned Corps, attaining the rank of captain and retiring as its dental director.

Dr. Smith held faculty appointments at the UW from 1960 through 1992. He was a full-time professor of prosthodontics from 1978-88, serving as the director of prosthodontics research and the graduate program and as a visiting professor at the University of Toronto in 1987. He retired in 1993 as a professor emeritus.

Many of his former students credit him with setting their careers on the right path. He published original research, mentored several generations of students, served as president of several prestigious prosthodontics organizations and was recognized internationally for his knowledge and creativity in the disciplines of removable prosthodontics and implants.

He served with Dr. John Townsend on two committees at the UW School of Dentistry at the request of Dean Karl-Ake Omnell. One committee determined the current format of the Graduate Prosthodontics program in 1986; the other determined the choice of an articulator, which is still in use.

In 2009, the Pacific Coast Society of Prosthodontics honored Dr. Smith with its Fred Gulick Distinguished Life Member Award.

Dr. Smith was instrumental in establishing the Dale E. Smith Prosthodontics Endowed Student Support Fund, which helps recruit and support students in Graduate Prosthodontics at the UW.

Dr. Smith loved fly fishing and golf and traveled far and wide in pursuit of big fish and challenging courses. He was also an ardent fan of baseball, football and basketball. Year in and year out, he cheered on the UW Huskies from the stands at Husky Stadium and Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

In recent years, he became active in the 10th Mountain Association’s Mount Rainier Chapter, editing the organization’s newsletter and serving a term as president. He was a past president of the Pacific Coast Society and the Academy of Prosthodontics.

Dr. Smith is survived by his children, Laurie Smith of Lake Forest Park, Wash., Jerry Smith and Sherry Wartelle of Redmond, Wash., and Jennifer and Daniel Vradenburg of Issaquah, Wash.; grandchildren, Emily and Lindsey Smith, Nicholas and Alison Vradenburg and Kimberly Smith; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Rhobie, who died in 2008, and his daughter Gretchen, who died in 2010.