Operative Dentistry lost a timeless member and to so many of us a trusted and dear friend with the passing of Dr. Max Anderson on October 28, 2013 at his home in Sequim, Washington. Max remained a warrior to the end of his four year battle with cancer.
Max was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, during the height of World War II. He never had a chance to know his father as his father died while deployed to the far east while serving to “fly the hump” into China. I don't believe he could have been given a more appropriate name as he never did anything less than “to the max”.
Max's own service to our nation began with his enlistment into the Navy in 1963. Max served in submarines and was a qualified nuclear reactor operator for four years aboard USS Roosevelt (SSBN 600). It was while serving in Groton, CT, in 1968 that he met his life-long partner in Suzanne Fontaine. They were married in 1968.
Max left the Navy in 1970 as an IC1 to return to college and pursue his desire to become a dentist. While in Lincoln at the dental school, he became close friends with his classmate Bob Garcia. Bob proceeded to introduce Max to his father-in-law, Dr. Bill Ferguson and Max was now on his road to dedicate himself to operative dentistry. He graduated from the University of Nebraska, School of Dentistry in 1976 and was commissioned in the Navy as a General Practice Resident at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. He was then assigned to the USS Raleigh (LPD-1) for two years. Following a tour at NAS Brunswick, Maine, Max was selected to attend the University of Michigan for a Master's degree in Operative Dentistry. Again, under the watchful eyes of Drs. Charlie Cartwright, Walter Loesche, and many others, Max was further directed toward operative dentistry, particularly the interaction with the caries process. He developed a lifelong friendship with his classmates Bill Gregory, Mike Molvar, Mark Fitzgerald and me. Tours at NDC San Diego, where many AEGD's fell under his spell, to his final tour on the faculty at the Naval Dental School, Bethesda, showed his deep dedication and devotion to superb dental care emphasizing both restorative and preventive strategies to enhance the oral health of our sailors and Marines. While at Bethesda, Max served as the Specialty Leader for Operative Dentistry to the Navy Surgeon General.
Max retired from the Navy in 1990 to become a member of the dental faculty at the University of Washington. During this time Max also served as the Editor of the Journal of Operative Dentistry for three years and oversaw several expansions in its format. He was one of the initial Associate Editors of the Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice. He served on the Executive Council of the Academy of Operative Dentistry.
In 1994, and for the next 10 years, Max was Vice President and Dental Director of Washington Dental Service. While there he developed the largest dental data warehouse then in existence to provide information to all Delta Dental companies and to various dental specialty groups.
In 2005, Max cofounded C3Jian, Inc. with Dr. Wenyuan Shi of UCLA with the initial goal of developing a cure for dental caries using a strategy of targeting specific pathogens. Max had more than 60 articles published in dental literature and provided his unique presentation skills to groups around the world.
Max was presented with the Hollenback Award for excellence in Operative Dentistry in 2012.
Max was innovative, devoted, determined and dedicated to each and every endeavor. He was ever available to his residents and his colleagues and always valued his time in support of oral health.
In the tradition of the Navy there is a poem titled “The Watch” and its conclusion certainly describes Max.
“Shipmate, the watch stands relieved, Relieved by those you have led, trained and guided. Shipmate you stand relieved, we have the watch. Boatswain…Standby to pipe the side Shipmate Anderson's going ashore”
Max is survived by his wife of 45 years, Suzanne, son Erik and daughter Morgan Nicole.
Donations can be made to: Assured Hospice of Clallam & Jefferson Counties of Washington; Sequim Food Bank; Moving Toward Independence, Napa, CA, or to the Founder's Fund of the Academy of Operative Dentistry.
Submitted by Ronald C. House, DDS, MS