The Loss of a Legend
The dental profession lost a legend, and our community lost a hero this past summer. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Dr. D. Walter Cohen was untiring and creative in his pursuit of excellence. His contributions to both dentistry and medicine, his generosity to people and institutions, and his ability to accomplish the impossible had-and will continue to have-a profound effect on all of us.
I would like to recount my personal relationship with Walter, as I had the honor of witnessing the impact he made on people's lives, including mine, over many years. We met more than 50 years ago at the beginning of my time at dental school in Philadelphia. It was my good fortune that Walter took me under his wing, so I could learn from the master. Through dental school, periodontal training, and medical school, Walter was there to guide me, becoming more of a second father than just a teacher and mentor.
For example, when I was accepted to medical school, I couldn't afford to attend. Walter, however, convinced me it was an opportunity I could not pass up, and he found a way to obtain the money to pay for my tuition. The only stipulation was that I agree to teach at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine for at least 5 years. That promise has turned into more than 45 years of teaching, including joint programs with medical schools.
This was part of Walter's genius; the medical degree allowed me to teach the next generation of dentists and physicians, helping to broaden their knowledge of the connection between dentistry and medicine. We were ahead of our time in that regard, with Walter leading the way.
We also were partners in private practice together for over 40 years, opening up a world of both excellence and opportunity for me. But more importantly, our personal relationship grew closer. He was always there to listen and to discuss not only professional experiences, but also family and personal matters, offering his advice and help. I was so fortunate to have this time with such a legend in the field of dentistry and such a remarkable human being.
Unfortunately, we have reached the end of an era. The dental profession and the greater world have lost a role model and a man who was in every way "second to none."
Louis F. Rose, DDS, MD