Dr. Byron Wallace Inman, an oral surgeon who made a family business of dentistry, died Friday of congestive heart failure at Homewood at Crumland Farms retirement community in Frederick. He was 87.
A native of Mount Airy, N.C., Dr. Inman moved to Baltimore after high school to study dentistry at the urging of his uncle, also a dentist.
After graduating from the University of Maryland dental school in the late 1930s, he attended to the teeth of Baltimoreans as part of a practice of three, with his uncle and his cousin.
"They were called Dr. Senior, Dr. Junior and Dr. Wallace - my dad was Wallace - by the office staff," said daughter Lois Inman Engle of Berkeley, Calif. "The office staff always said the nervous people insisted on [my] father because he was so kind, he was so gentle, and he had a gentle touch."
Mrs. Engle said that in oral surgery, "his reputation was the best. He was known to be the best in the state of Maryland."
Dr. Inman left the practice to serve in World War II, where he was a captain in the Army, and later returned to the family business.
During those years in private practice, Dr. Inman also excelled on the golf course, his daughter said, winning awards and tournaments locally.
But after his second heart attack at age 44, doctors made him stop, believing at the time that physical exercise wasn't good for people with heart problems. He didn't have another heart attack for 32 years.
In his 50s, Dr. Inman left private practice and went to work for the state of Maryland, doing public health dentistry for about a decade until his retirement 22 years ago.
He focused his leisure time on collecting. He had a collection of Civil War artifacts, but was most proud of his collection of antique tools.
"That was his real passion," said daughter Kathy Inman Maxwell of Clarksburg. "Woodworking and things that were handmade by blacksmiths, farm tools, things that were used by jewelers, by piano makers, by miners, by book-binders - just a myriad of tools used in different occupations."
But there was one occupation that apparently didn't capture his fascination when it came to old tools.
"I don't think he collected dental tools," Mrs. Maxwell said.
Services and interment will be private.
Dr. Inman is also survived by a son, Byron Wallace Inman Jr. of Butler; another daughter, Bonnie Inman Collins of Parkton; a brother, Grayson Inman; a sister, Elaine Inman Bradner; and five grandchildren.