Dr. Robert Ferris, former ADA vice president, dies at 83

Dr. Robert T. Ferris, who served as vice president of the American Dental Association from 2004-06, died Oct. 1 at the age of 83.

In addition to his executive role with the ADA, Dr. Ferris was a past president of the American Academy of Periodontology, Florida Dental Association and the American Association of Dental Examiners. He was also the 2013 recipient of the ADA’s Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor that the Association bestows.

Dr. Ferris received his dental degree from Emory University and a post-doctoral Masters in Science in periodontology and Ph.D. in microbiology from the Ohio State University. According to his obituary, he practiced periodontics in Altamonte Springs, Florida, and Deltona, Florida, for 40 years and also donated his time to a number of local societies and charities, including Rotary International, and spent time rescuing abandoned animals with his wife.

Dr. Ferris was also a noted philanthropist. In 2006, he donated $1 million to benefit both the Florida Dental Health Foundation and the American Academy of Periodontology Foundation. Both foundations were partner organizations of a national campaign to secure the future of dental education, according to a 2013 ADA News story.

“I think it's important for everyone in the dental family to understand the pressing needs of the dental education system in our country,” Dr. Ferris said at the time. “I hope that this gift will encourage people to ask questions, identify needs in education and make their legacy gift to a dental education project that is important to them.”

Along with his career as a clinician and educator, Dr. Ferris was a national and international lecturer who published extensively on topics ranging from basic science, to clinical management of oral disease, to the impact of standards on the delivery of oral health care. He was a fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, the Pierre Fauchard Academy, and was twice awarded the Florida Dental Association Dentist of the Year.

Dr. Ferris is survived by his wife, Jennifer Corey; daughter, Leah Marie Yankus, Ph.D.; son, Robert Louis Ferris, M.D., Ph.D.; brother, Charles Ferris; and five grandchildren.

Donations in his memory should be sent to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the obituary said.