Dr Parnupong Wongthai, a member of the American Academy of Implant Prosthodontics (AAIP) Board of Directors since 1999, died suddenly of a heart attack at his home in Bangkok on October 13, 2009. He was 56 years old. Dr Wongthai was a full time member of the Department of Prosthodontics at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, since 1977. He served as chairperson for many of those years, with the rank of associate professor.
Dr Wongthai received his DDS from Chulalongkorn University in 1977. He was awarded a Certificate in Prosthodontics from Temple University School of Dentistry in 1983 and a Master of Science degree in Oral Biology from Temple University in 1984.
Dr Wongthai was a Master of the American Academy of Implant Prosthodontics (1999), a Diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (1993), and a Diplomat of the Thai Board of Prosthodontists (1998). He was one of the founders of the Thai Dental Implant Society and served as its president 1990–1992 and 1997–2005. Dr Wongthai was awarded a plaque for his extraordinary service to the AAIP at the AAIP annual meeting at Treasure Island, Las Vegas, Nevada, in November of 2007.
Dr Wongthai was co-author of a number of refereed publications that appeared in The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, Journal of Oral Implantology, and Implant Dentistry. He often appeared as a podium speaker for the AAIP. At the time of his death, he was preparing a textbook on partial denture design and construction.
Dr Wongthai was beloved by his students at Chulalongkorn University. He frequently appeared in faculty/student productions at the dental school and was known for his excellent singing voice. He was extremely well liked by AAIP members, who enjoyed his company and sense of humor at AAIP meetings throughout the years.
A special relationship existed between Dr Wongthai and Dr Sheldon Winkler, AAIP Executive Director. Dr Wongthai's advanced training in prosthodontics at Temple University was supervised by Dr Winkler, and Dr Winkler served as thesis advisor for Dr Wongthai's Masters Thesis. Dr Wongthai served as Dr Winkler's host during his annual visits to Thailand and arranged Dr. Winkler's lecture schedule throughout the country during these visits. Dr Wongthai often visited Dr Winkler in the United States and referred to Dr Winkler as his “American Father.”
Among Dr Wongthai's many American friends are Dr Leonard I. Linkow, Honorary President of the AAIP, and Dr Harold F. Morris, President-Elect of the AAIP. Dr Linkow taught Dr Wongthai advanced implant techniques at Temple University School of Dentistry and his dental office in New York. Dr Morris often lectured in Thailand at the invitation of Dr Wongthai.
Dr Wongthai is survived by his wife, Dr Poonpanida Wongthai, and two sons.