Dentists might spend most of their time around teeth, and staying up to date on dental techniques, but many dentists have lived lives of fame and adventure in and outside the dental office.
Shoot-Out the Cavities
John Henry “Doc” Holiday was one of the deadliest gun fighters of the Old West, but got the name Doc because he started off as a dentist. At 19-years-old he went to dental school in Philadelphia. Two years later, in 1872, he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery. He opened a dental office in Atlanta. But he decided to move west after he contracted tuberculosis and needed a drier climate. He still did some work as a dentist, but devoted more of his time to gun slinging and participating in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and joined Wyatt Earp’s Vendetta Ride.
Dental Civil Rights Fighter
Annie Elizabeth Bessie Delaney earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from Columbia University in 1923. She was the second African-American woman to practice dentistry in New York and was a well-known civil rights activist. She shared a dental office with her brother in New York. She also participated in many protests and marches and had civil rights meetings at her dental office. She became famous when she was 100 years old because a journalist wrote a book about her and her sister’s life, which became the basis of a Broadway play and film.
Gold Medalist Dentist
Erhard Keller is a dentist who is also an Olympic Gold Medalist. He is a former speed skater from West Germany. He studied dentistry at Munich University and then participated in the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble where he won first place in the 500m. He was the first German male Olympic Champion in speed skating. In 1972 he won another gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sapporo. Then he went on to graduate dentistry in 1973 and devoted his time to being a professional dentist.
Race to Clean Teeth
Dr. Dick Thompson is a Washington, D.C. dentist, but is also known as the “Flying Dentist”. He was a race-car driver from the 1950s to the 1970s and won many Sports Car Club of America championships. He helped make the Corvette a world-class sports car and was inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame. He never quit his dentistry business, and eventually decided to focus on it full-time. He now lives in Wellington, F.L.
Dentist of the Air
Bessica Medlar Raiche was born in 1932. She was a dentist, businesswoman, physician and the first American woman to fly solo in an airplane. In 1900 she was working as a dentist and living in New Hampshire. She later married Francois Raiche, and they moved to New York where they constructed a Wright type biplane in their living room. On September 16, 1910, in her homemade flyer, she became the first woman to make a solo airplane flight. She received no flight instruction or experience before her flight.
Next time you’re in the office ask Dr. D’Alfonso about his adventurous life.