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John Stanford, 40-year ADA employee, honorary member, dies

John Stanford, 40-year ADA employee, honorary member, dies
Dr. John Stanford in 2009.

Phoenix—John Stanford, Ph.D., a retired 40-year ADA employee and driving force in setting standards for dental products, died Feb. 23. He was 83.

Dr. Stanford was born in Nashville, Tenn. From 1945-49, he served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army active reserves and from 1952-65 served in the U.S. Air Force reserves, retiring as a captain in 1965.

It was during his time as an Army dental technician that Dr. Stanford met his future mentor Dr. George Paffenbarger, the former director of the ADA Research Unit. According to his son, Dr. Clark Stanford, Dr. Paffenbarger encouraged his father to pursue a career in dental science. The advice stuck and Dr. Stanford went on to graduate with a bachelor's in chemistry from the University of Maryland and master's in dental materials and doctorate in medical and dental science from Georgetown University.

While completing his studies, he began working for the ADA in 1952. By this time he had met and married his wife Joan and was a young father. In 1961, Dr. Stanford was appointed assistant director of the ADA's Research Division at the National Bureau of Standards (now called the National Institute of Standards and Technology). While involved in certification and testing, he also conducted research in the mechanical properties of tooth structure. In 1965, he moved to Association Headquarters in Chicago and became secretary of the ADA Council on Dental Materials (which has since been merged into the Council on Scientific Affairs).

Dr. Stanford was a key figure in the world of national and international standards for dental products and is credited with establishing the ADA standards program as it exists today, said Sharon Stanford, Dr. Stanford's daughter-in-law, and current director, ADA Standards Administration.

Additionally, he was one of the founding members of the International Organization for Standards (ISO) Technical Committee 106 Dentistry where he served as secretariat of Subcommittee 2 for Prosthodontics for many years and later as chair of ISO/TC106 from 1991-99 and appointed chairman emeritus in 2000. He was a past chair of ANSI’s Medical Device Standards Board, the Food and Drug Administration’s Panel for Review and Classification of Dental Devices, and the Federation Dentaire Internationale Commission on Dental Products and FDI Commission on Dental Products' Standing Committee on Relations between the Profession, Trade and Industry.

Dr. Clark Stanford, associate dean for research at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, said his father was a mentoring figure who helped steer him toward getting his dental degree.

"He asked me what I wanted to do with my career and I told him I was thinking of getting a [doctorate] in biology," said Clark, "and he said I should get a dental or medical degree because 'you'll always have that to fall back on.' "

Another son, Dr. Brent Stanford, a general dentist in Chicago Heights, Ill., said, "My father never sought high esteem, recognition or accolades for his efforts to expand and refine the standards for dental materials, devices and equipment that we as professionals and the industries use to provide exceptional dental care worldwide. Throughout his career, my father benefited from countless, dedicated professionals, many who became close and lifelong trusted friends."

Dr. Stanford retired from the ADA in 1992 after 40 years of service and in 1994 was made an honorary member of the Association. Other honors include the Bernard J. Conway Award, an honorary doctorate in Odontology from the Umea University in Sweden, the Wilmer Souder Award from the International Association of Dental Research, the ANSI Astin-Polk International Standards Medal and the Pierre Fauchard Academy Michinosyke Nakayama Memorial Award.

Dr. Stanford is survived by his wife of 61 years, Joan; four children: Margo Sargent, Brent, Clark and Joy Ackerman; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service will be held March 12 at the Messinger Pinnacle Peak Mortuary in Scottsdale, Ariz. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Dr. Stanford’s name to the Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower Street, Phoenix, AZ 85014.

The Stanford family has also set up an online memorial. To read more about Dr. John Stanford or to contribute to his memorial, visit