KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Dec 23rd, 2013
Contact: Dr. John Thompson
Phone: 800-292-1855
Email: info@kyda.org

It Is What They Left Behind

They were people who could make things happen. For some reason they always looked taller and seemed to rise above the crowd. They were some of the busiest people you would know, but if something needed to be done, they were the ones you could count on to get it done. They left their mark on the dental profession in this Commonwealth. We have recently marked the passing of Dr. Vincent Barr, Dr. Alvin Morris and Dr. Theodore Logan. They were three gentleman giants who set the bar high in a pursuit of excellence in very distinctive segments of this profession.

There was a time when the Kentucky Dental Association did not require the services of a lobbyist. If it was happening in Frankfort, Dr. Vince Barr knew it. If there was legislation pending that we opposed or supported, it was Dr. Barr at the desk of both our friends and our foes. He carried the respect of both parties and could represent the best interest of dentistry in Kentucky without a caucus. He recognized consensus, he understood compromise and was the master of the art of the deal. He was the quintessential gentleman. Sadly, there are too few who really understand the workings of a republic as did Dr. Barr. His passion was politics and the city of Frankfort and, indeed, the state of Kentucky was much the better for the considerable effort of Dr. Vincent Barr.

Dental education was turned on its ear by Dr. Alvin Morris, who at age thirty three, became the first dean of the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. It was not an easy birth for the new dental school, but with behind-the-scenes help of the University of Louisville School of Dentistry Dean Raymond Myers and the political machinations of Vincent Barr, the college flourished. The curriculum concepts that Dr. Al Morris instituted at Kentucky were radical when compared to the existing mode of dental education. The diagonal curriculum that put first year dental students in contact with real patients was vilified long before it became the accepted mode for much of dental education throughout the world. Dr. Morris’s passion was the advancement of the profession and he was at the forefront of change for his entire career and he chose to spend his final years in Central Kentucky. 

I cannot think of the Kentucky Dental Association without picturing Dr. Theodore Logan. A prosthodontist, Chairman of Prosthodontics at the University of Louisville and KDA Executive Director, his passion was organized dentistry. Under his leadership the Kentucky Dental Association was a well-oiled machine. As our Executive Director, there was no question of who was in charge. Somewhere, over the years, Dr. Logan learned the art of agreeing to disagree, but it took a very strong argument to bend his will. It became my opinion that he was right much of the time, but I often found myself, as a young rebel dentist, in a vacillating position. Dr. Theodore Logan could be intimidating as well as lovable.

It is notable that Dr. Barr, Dr. Morris and Dr. Logan were devoted to their spouses and family as if their passion for living carried into all facets of their long and active lives. They each had their cross of life (love, worship, work play) in balance.

In reflecting on the lives of three great gentlemen I was reminded of a recent writing left to us by Steve Jobs. He said, “You’ve got to find what you love and that is as true for work as it is for lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly stratified is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you will know when you’ve found it.”

For those of us who knew them, they were great examples of how you play this game of life as well as what this profession is about. We can only hope that what we learned from that generation is being passed through this generation and on to those that will follow. They had the ability to change with the times, even when they didn’t like it. They knew what to hold on to and what and when to let go and move on. These are qualities that leadership today must exhibit. We are in a time of change, as we have always been. I think change just happens faster now because we communicate by faster technology. There must be a new generation that finds its passion in providing leadership in the mold of our past.

We simply have to manage our profession at the speed of change if we are to remain at its helm. The Kentucky Dental Association has a rich tradition of strong representative leadership. The greatest challenge today is that dentistry is made up of so many varied practice and service models that must have a voice. We are no longer the homogenous male, solo practice dentist model of the past. We are evolving into new technical and business models with roles that did not exist in the past. These changes provide a new equation in what the Kentucky Dental Association and the American Dental Association must look like going forward.

The legacy that these three great leaders have left us is the example of what leadership looks like. It is not that they left us a blueprint of where dentistry will be in the future. None of us know the future with the effect of the Affordable Care Act and the changed economic climate. We, as a profession, will be successful if there are those who have the passion to take chances and lead us in new directions. I was honored to know these three men and to benefit from their great leadership, but our blessing is in what they left behind. 

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