The late Dr. Richard A. Kozal engaging students with the legend of American dentist & gunfighter Doc Holliday
MOMENTS TO CHERISH, SHARED MEMORIES, AND A MAN HONORED...PERSONAL REFLECTIONS
Thursday, May 17, 2010, was a beautiful day...a very special day, as the man I called husband, soul mate, and best friend was honored by friends and colleagues for his dedication to his profession, to the Pierre Fauchard Academy, and to one of his greatest joys in life, teaching.
As I listened with pride to the words being spoken about Richard, I thought back to how it all started, when we left the place where we were born and had lived all of our adult lives to move to the desert and start a new life in Las Vegas, Nevada. Soon after we started this new chapter, an opportunity came knocking on our door. It led us to become close friends with then State Senator Dr. Raymond Rawson. Dr. Rawson was a well known forensic dentist and a teacher at the Community College of Southern Nevada. Richard thought it would be an honor for the Academy to have the Senator as a PFA Fellow, and we "inducted" Dr. Rawson at a local IHOP during breakfast. This meeting led to a wonderful and close relationship with Dr. Rawson and his kind and sweet wife, Linda. We spent many happy times together, even traveling to Paris and Belgium, where Ray was the guest speaker at the PFA meetings held there.
Once Dr. Rawson realized that Richard was not only dedicated to the Academy but had a passion for teaching, he encouraged him to move the PFA Central Office to the College, where a special office was created. Richard also was offered a teaching position, and for the next 9 years he performed his duties as Secretary General of PFA and taught the students in the Dental Hygiene program, a true labor of love to be sure.
Later, space for Richard's dream of a Dental History Museum became a reality. The Museum is a living legacy to Richard thanks to the many dentists who donated dental items from different eras for display. Each semester the dental hygiene and dental assisting students take field trips to the museum to learn about how dentistry was conducted way back then and to talk about how far the profession has advanced. As Executive Director I get many letters and e-mails thanking the Academy for this wonderful opportunity to visit the museum.
All stories have either happy endings or sad ones; this story has both. My dear husband and our Secretary General passed away, leaving us very sad but with a legacy and many happy memories. This is what I chose to think about as Dr. Steve Hedlund, our current PFA President, and I placed the beautiful plaque in Richard's memory into the museum for all to see.
With thanks to all, Judith D. Kozal