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UCSF dental dean emeritus dies

October 31, 2016

By Michelle Manchir

Dr. John C. Greene
Photo courtesy of UCSF Archives

The dean emeritus of the University of California, San Francisco, and a prolific researcher who helped educate Major League Baseball players on the dangers of smokeless tobacco, Dr. John C. Greene, died Oct. 13 at age 90.

Dr. Greene was deputy surgeon general and chief dental officer of the United States Public Health Service prior to his appointment as UCSF School of Dentistry dean, which he served as from 1981 to 1995, according to the university.

His leadership and prolific research "in the fields of oral epidemiology, oral hygiene and periodontal disease…was instrumental in the dental school's rise to prominence as a premier research institution," the university said in a news release.

Today, the UCSF's student-run dental research organization, the John C. Greene Society, bears his name.

Dr. Greene's research included the topic of tobacco, and he was part of a university group that worked with the San Francisco Giants baseball team in 1987, said Andy Evangelista, a freelance writer who worked with UCSF University Relations during the 1980s.

Evangelista recalled Dr. Greene's presence at spring training one year "with a baseball cap, mixing it up with Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, who came to spring training as advisers, and some of the 'younger' players like Mike Krukow and Will Clark," Mr. Evangelista said.

Dr. Greene served as president of the American Association for Dental Research, the American Association of Dental Schools and the International Association for Dental Research, according to the university.

A Kentucky native, Dr. Greene served as an electronics technician with the U.S. Navy during World War II. He received his dental degree from the University of Louisville in 1952.

"Dr. Greene lived a life filled with extraordinary achievements," said John D.B. Featherstone, Ph.D, current dean of the School of Dentistry, in an obituary posted on the university's website. "He will be greatly missed."