Dr. Ornish passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the age of 87 of natural causes. Dr. Ornish was born on January 17, 1925, a first-generation Dallasite and lifelong resident of Dallas. Dr. Ornish grew up in the tight-knit Jewish neighborhood in South Dallas. He attended John Henry Brown Elementary and graduated from Forest Avenue High School. He was president of his Forest Avenue high school sophomore class and Standard Debating Society, a member of the tennis team, and the National Honor Society. As a young boy, Dr. Ornish worked in his father's pawn shop on Elm St. As a teenager, he worked at Bond's...
Dr. Ornish passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the age of 87 of natural causes. Dr. Ornish was born on January 17, 1925, a first-generation Dallasite and lifelong resident of Dallas. Dr. Ornish grew up in the tight-knit Jewish neighborhood in South Dallas. He attended John Henry Brown Elementary and graduated from Forest Avenue High School. He was president of his Forest Avenue high school sophomore class and Standard Debating Society, a member of the tennis team, and the National Honor Society.
As a young boy, Dr. Ornish worked in his father's pawn shop on Elm St. As a teenager, he worked at Bond's men's clothing store, and he became their top salesman. Despite his talent and success as a salesman, Dr. Ornish aspired to further his education and become a dentist, and he was the first member of his family to attend college and receive an advanced degree.
Dr. Ornish received a scholarship to SMU, which he attended while living at home. After three years, he matriculated to Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, and was a member of the Alpha Omega dental fraternity. He graduated from Baylor with a D.D.S. degree at age 21, one of only three Jews in his class. Following his graduation, Dr. Ornish enlisted in what was then the U.S. Army-Air Force and was a member of the Dental Corps for two years. He was stationed in San Antonio at Randolph Field (which later became Lackland Air Force Base), and subsequently transferred to Shepherd Air Field in Wichita Falls, where he was the only dentist for 15,000 servicemen.
After serving in the Air Force, Dr. Ornish returned to Dallas, where he married Natalie Moskowitz of Galveston on November 6, 1949. He and his beloved wife Natalie were inseparable for sixty-two years. Dr. Ornish established a dental practice at 4029 Lemmon Avenue, one of only a handful of Jewish dentists in Dallas at the time, and built what became the largest general dentistry practice in Dallas. In or about 1960, he commissioned the prominent architect, George Dahl, to design and construct an office building for him, and he relocated his practice to Preston Center, where he practiced until his retirement in 2007 at age eighty-two.
Three generations of Dallasites were patients, and he took delight after his retirement when he would run into former patients who would exclaim to him, "I was a patient of you as a child!" Dr. Ornish said the secret to his success as a dentist was that he not only enjoyed working with children, but, "I was a painless dentist!" He engendered deep loyalty and devotion amongst his office staff: Kay Lewis Boatright, her daughter Cheryl Gruner, Doris Coats, and Alyce Davis, all of whom loyally served Dr. Ornish for many decades. Dr. Ornish served as an Adjunct Professor of his alma mater, Baylor College of Dentistry, and where he taught Oral Diagnosis and Practice Management. He was also a successful commercial real estate investor.
Dr. Ornish was an avid tennis player and golfer and the winner of numerous tennis tournaments. He was an active member of the former Columbian Country Club and the T-Bar-M Racquet Club. He especially loved spending weekends with his family on Lake Dallas aboard the family's 27-foot Chris Craft cabin cruiser christened the "NATWIN". Dr. Ornish loved to fish and captain the boat while pulling water-skiers. He also was an avid Dallas Cowboys fan and held season tickets to the Cowboys going back to the days when they played in the Cotton Bowl. He loved ballroom dancing with Natalie at the Rondo/Carrousel Club and the Tower Club.
Dr. Ornish was a second-generation member of Congregation Shearith Israel synagogue, of which he was a lifelong member and served on the board of directors. He was active in the Jewish Federation of Dallas, a Lifetime Member of the Texas Dental Association and the American Dental Association, Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry (1984), and Mason of the Tannehill Lodge #52.
Dr. Ornish was preceded in death by his parents, Louis and Hannah Ornish, and his older sisters, Jeanette Ornish Levey and Harriet Ornish Rossman. He is survived by his loving wife Natalie Moskowitz Ornish, their four children Laurel, Dean, Steven, and Kathy, his daughter-in-laws Martha Chapman Ornish and Anne Pearce Ornish, son-in-law John Olstad, and his four grandchildren Andre, Miles, Lucas, and Jasmine.
Funeral Service: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. at Sparkman Hillcrest Northwest Highway Chapel, 7405 W. Northwest Highway, Dallas, Texas 75225. Shiva will be held at the home of Laurel Ornish. Memorials to the Ornish Garden at Congregation Shearith Israel are preferred.