Douglas Allen Atwood
Gentleman, dentist, professor, family man
Chatham, Massachusetts – Douglas Allen Atwood (87), M.D., D.M.D., of Chatham Massachusetts died at home on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, with his beloved wife of 63 years Minnie Eldredge Atwood at his side. They were married December 22, 1946 in Chatham where his bride was born and raised, and where the couple retired after raising six children in West Roxbury and after Dr. Atwood had led an accomplished career as a practicing dentist and as a professor and researcher of dentistry and prosthodontics.
Douglas was born in Boston on September 25, 1922 to Clifford Herman Atwood and Lillian Ovens Atwood and was raised by his parents in the Boston area, with his sister Virginia and brother Donald, who predeceased him. He graduated in 1940 from Roxbury Latin School, the secondary school where his five sons also later studied, and he recently attended the 70th reunion of his graduation from the school. He earned his A.B. from Amherst College in 1943.
Douglas was a second generation dentist who at the age of ten dreamed of attending the Harvard Dental School like his father and practicing dentistry with him. In 1943 he began a joint degree program with the Harvard Medical School and Dental School, and was simultaneously commissioned a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He earned his M.D. in 1946, conducted a surgical internship at Boston City Hospital, spent two years as a surgeon in the U.S. Army Medical Corp., and earned the rank of Captain before leaving military service. During and after his service in the Army he pursued his dream of dentistry, receiving his D.M.D. cum laude from Harvard in 1951 and joining his father in the practice of dentistry in Back Bay, Boston.
Father and son practiced together for several years until Clifford's retirement, when Douglas continued the thriving practice on his own. Throughout most of his practice, Dr. Atwood taught and conducted research part-time at Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM). After 21 years of practice he went full-time at HSDM, where he chaired the Department of Prosthetic Dentistry, directed the teaching and faculty clinics, and continued his research and teaching of post-doctoral students. Dr. Atwood's research on residual ridge resorption was groundbreaking in the field of prosthodontics. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff at Brigham Hospital, as President of the Academy of Prosthodontics and of the Federation of Prosthodontic Associations, and in numerous other leadership positions in his field.
In 1981, Harvard School of Dental Medicine recognized his many contributions with the Distinguished Faculty Award, including the citation, "Teacher, researcher, clinician, administrator, you have managed to wear four hats without getting a swelled head."
Upon his retirement, with his wife, he devoted himself to the conservation of Goose Pond and surrounding woodlands in Chatham. Douglas Atwood was a man of deep Christian faith. He was a member of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Chatham and of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in West Roxbury where he served several terms on vestry and as warden.
Cherished by his family, and loved and respected by friends, patients, students, co-workers, and colleagues as a man of integrity, humility, and kindness, Douglas Atwood gave much but asked for little in return. At the 50th reunion of his graduation from Harvard Medical School, when asked for his advice to the graduating senior of 1996, he said, "'It is better to give than to receive.' Find something you like to which you can give yourself and give it your best."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sons Steven of Chatham, Thomas and his wife Eileen of Clifton Virginia, James and his wife Shelley Hankin of Newton, Frederick of Oakton Virginia, Daniel and his wife Mary of Woodstock Connecticut, his daughter Laura Duran and her husband Angel Felix Duran of Hyde Park, and 14 grandchildren.
Visiting hours will be 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 1, 2010 at Nickerson Funeral Home, 87 Crowell Rd., Chatham. A funeral service will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 2, 2010 at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, 625 Main St., Chatham, followed by a reception at the church. The burial service will be conducted at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 7, 2010 at Forest Hills Cemetery, 95 Forest Hills Ave., Boston, followed by a 12:30 p.m. reception at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 21 Stratford St., West Roxbury.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Clifford H. and Douglas A. Atwood Teaching Fund for Prosthetic Dentistry at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, 188 Longwood Ave., Boston.
For online condolences and guestbook, visit www.nickersonfhchatham.com