January 13, 2016

School, dental community mourn Dr. Richard V. Tucker

Dr. Richard V. Tucker, a world-renowned figure in continuing dental education who had strong ties to  the School of Dentistry, passed away on Tuesday morning at a hospital in Bellingham, Wash., after a brief illness. He was 93.

In the dental community, Dr. Tucker’s name was virtually synonymous with cast gold restorations. Through guest lectures and a global network of more than 50 study clubs – including one at the University of Washington – he helped train myriad dentists in gold procedures.

Dr. Richard V. Tucker & Dr. Kjersten Otterholt

Dr. Richard V. Tucker with his granddaughter, 2013 UW dental graduate Dr. Kjersten Otterholt

While he did not receive his dental training at the University of Washington, Dr. Tucker was closely involved with the UW. Not only was he a guest lecturer at study club meetings and in pre-doctoral restorative dentistry courses, but his son, Dr. Richard D. Tucker, is a 1976 UW dental graduate who remains on the School of Dentistry’s affiliate faculty. His daughter, Dr. Victoria Otterholt, is also a UW dental graduate (1977), along with her husband, Dr. Dana Otterholt (1977). So is his granddaughter, Dr. Kjersten Otterholt (2013).

In addition, Dr. Tucker was a prominent supporter of the School of Dentistry, earning Distinguished Benefactor status and receiving the school’s Dean’s Club Honorary Lifetime Member Award in 2010.

“We have lost one of dentistry’s true icons,” said Dean Joel Berg. “Dr. Tucker influenced generations of dentists through his ‘Tucker Technique’ of gold restorations, and he was one of our School’s best friends and most welcome presences throughout his career.  I can think of few other dentists who have been as revered for their wisdom, expertise and kindness as he was.”

Dr. Tucker was honored repeatedly during his career, most recently by the American Dental Association with its Distinguished Service Award, its highest honor, last November.

“His dedication to excellence in dentistry and to high ethical standards has impacted countless dentists around the world,” ADA President Dr. Maxine Feinberg said at the time.

Dr. Tucker, born in Idaho, received his undergraduate and dental education at Washington University in St. Louis. He served for two years in the U.S. Navy, then practiced privately in Ferndale, Wash. from 1948 to 2013. During his career, he served as president of the Washington State Dental Association, the Academy of Operative Dentistry and the American Academy of Gold Foil Operators.