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First ADA female president dies at 86

March 22, 2017

By David Burger

Dr. Morrow
Wasilla, Alaska — Dr. Geraldine Morrow, the ADA's first female president, died March 20. She was 86.

Dr. Morrow, a general dentist in Anchorage, Alaska, served as president from 1991-92. She was also the first female trustee of the ADA, beginning her term in 1984.

"She was a role model for many young women," said her son Doug Morrow. "She was devoted, fearless, and determined. Anything she could do to encourage and support dentistry, she did."

Dr. Morrow served six years as the ADA 11th District trustee, representing Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. She spent six years on the former Council on Dental Health and Health Planning, which she chaired from 1983-84.

Dr. Morrow was also president and executive director of the Alaska Dental Society and a 10-year delegate to the ADA House of Delegates. In addition, she was president and membership chair of the Alaska Academy of General Dentistry.

In 1987, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree from the Georgetown University School of Dentistry. In 1991 the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry (now the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry) awarded her an honorary doctorate of public service degree. In 1992, she received an honorary degree from her alma mater, Tufts University.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Morrow was affiliated with the University of Alaska, Anchorage. For five years, she was coordinator of the dental hygiene and dental assistant program at the university's Anchorage Community College and later served as the school's director of allied health sciences. In that capacity, she developed new programs and curricula in respiratory therapy, medical X-ray technology, and medical transcribing.

"Gerry Morrow broke America's glass ceiling," said Dr. George E. Shaffer, former president of the Alaska Dental Society. "Her success came at a time when dentistry was beginning to evolve as a profession that welcomed women as equals. She was a pioneer and championed the cause of equality. We should show our appreciation to her by being active in organized dentistry in our own way. Gerry would want us all to continue to work for the improvement of dental health and we who deliver it."

Dr. Morrow was born Oct. 12, 1930, and was a resident of Wasilla, Alaska, at the time of her passing. She retired at the age of 80 after years spent in contract work for the state of Alaska for underserved residents.

Dr. Morrow served on the board of the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped (now the Dental Lifeline Network), and was the mother of four: Doug, Nancy, Joyce and Lora. Two daughters followed in their mother's footsteps: Nancy became a dentist in California and Joyce is a nurse at the Alaska Native Hospital.

Services will be held at Sunny Knik Chapel in Wasilla on April 7 at 11 a.m. Viewing will be at Evergreen Memorial Chapel in downtown Anchorage at 3 p.m., with a graveside service following at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.