John R. Dopson Sr.

The longtime Reisterstown dentist taught for a decade at the University of Maryland Dental School

April 01, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

John Robert Dopson Sr., a longtime Reisterstown dentist who was known for his technical skills and personable demeanor, died March 25 of heart and kidney failure at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 79.

Dr. Dopson was born in Newburgh, N.Y., and raised in Goshen, N.Y. After graduation from high school, he enlisted in the Navy, serving as a sonarman third class aboard the destroyer USS William M. Wood.

After being discharged, he attended Cornell University and studied for three years at Bucknell University. He enrolled at the University of Maryland Dental School, where he earned his degree in dental surgery in 1963.

After teaching at the dental school for a decade, he established a general dental practice on Main Street in Reisterstown, where he practiced for 33 years.

Dr. Stephen H. Littman, a Westminster dentist, has known Dr. Dopson for nearly 40 years.

"He was my clinical instructor at dental school in 1971, and he was a wonderful instructor," Dr. Littman said. "He was very skilled, and the students loved him. He was head and shoulders above the other instructors."

Dr. Littman recalled his teacher's kindness when he established his practice.

"When I opened my practice in Westminster that specializes in root canals, he referred patients to me. I was very honored," Dr. Littman said.

Dr. J. Michael Kroe, a Westminster oral surgeon, was also a student at the dental school.

"He was a genuine good guy, and when you're in dental school, believe me, you're humbled. But he never treated you that way," Dr. Kroe said.

"He was a good role model for us," Dr. Kroe said. "He loved his patients, and he loved his profession."

It was a sudden toothache that brought Carlton F. Thomas, a Reisterstown resident, to Dr. Dopson's office late one afternoon years ago.

"I walked in, and he was finishing up with a patient and about to close up. He told me to wait and then took care of me," Mr. Thomas said. "He loved his work, and it wasn't about making money. He genuinely wanted to take care of people and make them as comfortable as possible."

Linda K. Summey, a retired registered nurse who worked at Maryland Shock Trauma Center for years, made the drive from her Pasadena home to Dr. Dopson's Reisterstown office.

"I was 16 years old when I first became a patient of his 44 years ago, and I revered him," Mrs. Summey said.

She said Dr. Dopson's popularity extended beyond Maryland. "He had a patient, a friend of mine, who drove all the way from Fredericksburg, Va., to see him," she said.

Dr. Dopson, a longtime Finksburg resident, was semiretired in recent years but was still seeing patients two weeks before his death.

He was an avid Yankees fan and enjoyed listening to big-band music, gardening, thoroughbred horse racing and crabbing on the Wye River.

"He also loved golfing, debating and sharing a good laugh," said a daughter, Alexis Elisabeth Sanner of Edgewater.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. April 18 at Mount Zion United Methodist Church, 3006 Old Westminster Pike, Finksburg.

Also surviving are his wife of 48 years, the former Joan Ann Almony; two sons, John R. Dopson Jr. and Matthew A. Dopson, both of Finksburg; another daughter, Valerie Ann Dopson of Finksburg; a brother, Ed Rasczewski of California; and four grandchildren.

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