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Dr. Sturdevant, renowned dental author, dies

Chapel Hill, N.C.Dr. Clifford Max Sturdevant, author of The Art and Science of Operative Dentistry, died Sept. 9. He was 90.

A founding faculty member of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, "Dr. Cliff" joined UNC in 1950 and from 1959-1979 served as chair of the department of operative dentistry. His father, Dr. Roger Sturdevant, was the first operative dentistry chair.

Dr. John Sturdevant, Dr. Cliff's son, also followed the family tradition and is an associate professor at UNC School of Dentistry. "Like my father, I enjoy being around students who are highly motivated and extremely talented. Dad enjoyed fixing things, and loved teaching others how to do so. Operative dentistry was a natural choice."   

Dr. John recalled his father's dedication to the profession, noting that he was known for his compassion and skill. "He always found time to listen, understand, and help with the problems of others. Dad will be remembered for his work in the church, his love of family, and for his commitment to excellence in operative dentistry."

The Art and Science of Operative Dentistry is now called Sturdevant's Art and Science of Operative Dentistry after current editor and former student, Dr. Ted Roberson, asked the publisher to change the name to honor its scholastic contribution to operative dentistry.

"He demanded excellence and that's what he always displayed himself," said Dr. Roberson said in a UNC news release. "He loved this dental school and this university, and he loved operative dentistry."

Said Dr. Gregory Chadwick, a past ADA president, "Our profession has lost a true giant and a gentleman. His passion for the smallest details in both the art and the science of operative dentistry made 'his' textbook the most widely used around the world. He loved his family, profession and his students, and will be long remembered for the difference he made in all our lives."

A past president of the Academy of Operative Dentistry, Dr. Sturdevant was affiliated with A Consortium on Restorative Dentistry Education, a project created in the 1970s to standardize operative dentistry teaching materials throughout all U.S. dental schools. He was known for his professional dedication and rumors had it among the dental school that he often worked until the early morning hours.

Dr. Sturdevant received his dental degree in 1943 from the Atlanta-Southern Dental College, which later became the Emory University School of Dentistry.

Dr. Clifford Sturdevant is survived by three children, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held Sept. 15.