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Drs. Butts and Pejsar, former ADA leaders, die in 2013

December 09, 2013

By Kimber Solana, ADA News staff

Drs. Herbert C. Butts and Gordon G. Pejsar—two former ADA leaders—died this past year. They were 89 and 85 years old, respectively.

Dr. Herbert Butts 
Dr. Butts

A long-time educator, Dr. Butts died Sept. 24 in Memphis, Tenn.

Born in 1924 in Dover, Tenn., Dr. Butts' first career experience in the health field came after he joined the Navy in 1943.

“To some extent, blind luck probably led him to dentistry. He studied one year of college engineering before being drafted into the Navy in WWII where he trained as a dental assistant and dental technician,” said Sid Butts, son. “After his discharge he then pursued dentistry.”

He received his dental degree in 1950 at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry.

Dr. Butts had been in private dental practice in Memphis for two years when, in 1952, he began his career in dental education as a part-time clinical instructor at the University of Tennessee. The new career eventually included every faculty rank and administrative position—from instructor to the dean's office.

He served as a reserve foreign service officer in the U.S. State Department's International Cooperation Administration as an advisor to the El Salvador School of Dentistry in El Salvador. He returned to the U.S. in 1964 to pursue graduate studies in operative dentistry and dental education at the University of Iowa.

From 1974 to 1977, Dr. Butts became editor-in-chief of The Journal of the American Dental Association, which is celebrated its 100th year in 2013. He left the position to become associate dean of academic affairs at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. He became dean of the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in 1981 until his retirement in 1985.

Mr. Butts said his father, during his career, had an “unofficial mission” to help bring more women and minorities into the dental profession. Dr. Butts was named an honorary member of the American Association of Women Dentists in 1983 and, during his time at Southern Illinois University, received a plaque for his support of black student dentists.

“From my point of view, I would say he simply enjoyed helping people—first as a dentist, then as a dental educator,” said Mr. Butts. “Being a depression-era child he was passionate about dental care to those in need.”

Dr. Butts is survived by his wife, Quay Coker Butts; daughters, Marla Oshinsky, Dr. April Butts and Dawn Hays; son, Sid Butts; sister, Anna Frances Butler; four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Dr. Gordon Pejsar
Dr. Pejsar

Born in the small town Western, Neb., Dr. Pejsar would serve in the U.S. Navy and dedicate a career in dentistry for about 50 years, including being elected first vice president of the ADA.

Dr. Pejsar died on July 8 in Lincoln, Neb.

After serving in the Navy from 1945-47, he enrolled at the University of Nebraska where he earned his bachelor's degree and dental degree.

He graduated in 1955 and practiced dentistry in Lincoln for the next 50 years—the last 20 with his son Steven. Dr. Pejsar, a general practitioner, retired in 2005.

Throughout his career, he served as president of the Lincoln District Dental Association, president of the Nebraska Dental Association and was elected first vice president of the ADA in 1985.

Dr. Pejsar was a fellow of International College of Dentists and the American College of Dentists, and a member of the American Academy of Dental Practice Administration and the Academy of Dental Consultants.

He also served as associate professor at the University of College of Dentistry and a member of the Nebraska Board of Dental Examiners.

Dr. Pejsar is survived by his wife Helen; sons, Steven, Gregg and Douglas Pejsar; brother, Roderick Pejsar; four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.