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Letters: Dr. Yagiela

March 19, 2012

The news about Dr. John Yagelia’s recent passing is indeed sad for those of us left behind ("Dr. Yagiela, Dental Anesthesia Authority, Dies at 64," March 5 ADA News).

After reflecting on the news, I realize all the words I have wanted to write are simply inadequate in describing John’s good influence on our profession and the patients we serve. I would like to share a couple memories. We were down-the-hall colleagues at the University of Utah in the 1970s as I was working on an M.S. in anesthesiology at the same time John was working on a Ph.D. in pharmacology. The pre- and post-Utah UCLA/USC competition was fun, too. I remember a tropical meeting at which I had on a very nice USC aloha shirt. I approached John in his UCLA version while kindly (maybe my body language spoke differently?) telling him "nice shirt." I finally asked him if he was going to say anything about my shirt and he replied "No," finally smiling a pregnant pause later.

He has freely provided anesthesiology related material to me over the years for use in some of my clinical, academic and politically related projects. We are also very honored that UCLA’s Dental Anesthesiology residency program has accepted two UNLV School of Dental Medicine graduates over the past two years.

I was always so impressed that Dr. Yagiela was not a self-promoter in spite of the fact that he was much more well-versed about anesthesiology than most, including myself. He always waited until he was asked a question, then immediately demonstrated he was most often the expert in the room on the subject at hand. An exception to waiting to be asked was when a group was irreversibly going down the wrong analytical path, when he would humbly raise a hand and when called on kindly voice his opinion, gently straightening out any controversy.

I feel not only did we learn a lot about the art and science of anesthesiology from John, but also how to be true professionals in the most positive sense.

Daniel L. Orr II, D.D.S., Ph.D., J.D., M.D.
Professor and Director
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Advanced Pain Control
University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine
Las Vegas