With the office staff increasingly busy preparing for the Annual Meeting and launching the new dentalethics.org website, our summer intern was given the assignment of researching the history of the Executive Assistants of the College for the upcoming centennial coffee table book.

Only four Executive Assistants have so far been identified as having served the College for more than two years, and none proved more of a mystery than Fern Crawford, long-time devoted secretary to Dr. Otto Brandhorst. There are vague references to Miss Crawford’s service all the way back to the early 1940s, but she was not formally employed by the College until the 1950s or 1960s. The lack of information combined with the amazing photograph of Fern in the 50-year history of the College, authored by Brandhorst, led to intrigue so great the entire staff got involved in the search for more information. Sadly, although many creative paths were followed, very little was found about Miss Crawford. Notably, she left over $113,000 to the Washington University School of Dental Medicine in St. Louis in Dr. Brandhorst’s name when she died. No obituary was located, but several press releases were found that detail the gift as well as Miss Crawford’s devotion to both Dr. Brandhorst and the profession of dentistry.

In the December 1959 issue of the JACD, out-going editor, Afred E. Seyler, wrote of his thanks to Brandhorst and Crawford, “… with an especial nod to my indefatigable, efficient commissar and friend, Otto Brandhorst, who, with his amanuensis, Fern Crawford, has guided me and helped when the burden was oppressive.”

While the “Fern Follies” was a fun summer detour from the daily operations of the College, Miss Crawford’s legacy of professionalism and excellence set the tone for all administrative staff who have come after her, and we honor her for that.

I had barely cleared Customs in the Toronto Airport and made my way toward the exit for ground transportation when the doors opened and revealed a veritable sea of crimson poppies. It appears that all of Canada is actively engaged in remembrance as we approach Veterans Day. Perhaps, the Centennial Anniversary of the Great War has catalyzed the effort but as a veteran of more than thirty years, it was an extraordinary site. The poppy has long been a symbol of remembrance – immortalized in the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields.” This poem penned on the battlefield by Canadian physician John McCrae is one of the most enduring examples of this genre. It is reported that he composed this poem in minutes on May 3, 1915 – one day after he witnessed the death of his close friend and fellow soldier. This poem was quite literally composed on the battlefront during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium. The poem was first published in London on December 8, 1915, and is presented in its entirety in solemn reverie for all those who have worn the cloth of their nations in defense of freedom. To all veterans and their families – thank you for your service and your sacrifice.

Dr. Theresa S. Gonzales, Executive Director

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Montana Article

ACD Staff members are always happy to answer questions or help with whatever our Fellows need to ensure the advancement of the College’s mission. There is typically a staff member on hand between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. We invite Fellows who live in or are visiting the greater Washington, D.C. area to stop by the office to meet the staff and tour the ACD headquarters.

Theresa Gonzales, DMD, MS, MSS
Executive Director
Suzan Pitman
Operations Director
Paul Dobson
Finance Director
Erica Royal
Gift Gallery Manager and Administrative Assistant
Melissa Lowe 
Credentials Coordinator and Administrative Assistant