Editors Note: The WSDA recently lost another incredibly respected WSDA member: dentist, editor and educator Dr. Vincent G. Kokich passed away suddenly on July 24. After retiring in 2010, Kokich was preparing to return to his role as educator at the UWSoD. Always a consummate professional, it has been said that Kokich would have rather have been remembered first as a devoted family man and second, a teacher. A renowned educator, scholar, researcher and a leading advocate of interdisciplinary dentistry, Dr. Kokich was a prominent lecturer, having presented more than 950 lectures throughout the world.
We asked colleagues to comment about their experiences with this titan of dentistry. His obituary follows their remarks.
"Dr. Vince Kokich was an amazing educator and even more gracious and kind person. His desire to help others in their lives surpassed most other teachers I have known. He elevated the profession by bringing fact based clinical experience to his teaching and helped revolutionize the orthodontic specialty. We have lost him way too early and our hearts go out to his family at this very difficult time.
He will always be in our memory as one of the best we have known."
— Drs. Bryan and Linda Edgar
"Vince was a great teacher and even better person. He had a way of taking complex subject matter and breaking it down into understandable and usable information. He was always quick to smile and had such a warm and inviting personality that you immediately felt comfortable with him even if you just met him. He gave so much of himself to the UW School of Dentistry and alumni that it’s hard to express the immense appreciation that those of us involved in the school have for what he has done. The practicing community will miss him deeply."
— Dr. Mark Walker
"The word that I think of with Vince is 'teacher.' Unlike many lecturers he would make an interesting point, and then answer the resulting questions from the point often before the audience could raise their hands. I realized that he not only put on a nice lecture but that he had spent the time to anticipate possible questions and answer them on the very next slide. That ability to share what he knew and explain it so thoroughly was what made him a great teacher."
— Dr. Greg Ogata
"I had the professional satisfaction of working with Vince for 35 years. As a full time practicing pediatric dentist he was the primary orthodontic referral for my patients. I also had the honor of being a part of the northwest network for dental excellence study group. This study group met monthly for most of those 35 years to review and treatment plan complex cases and to learn from each other. Vince, Dave Mathews, Frank Spear, Ralph O’Connor, John West, Bob Dunley, Dave Steiner, and I forged a professional and personal bond that transcends all understanding. It paved the way for the development of interdisciplinary dentistry as we have come to know it.
We came to respect, value, love, and challenge each other in a way that is indescribable and incomprehensible. His death has left a void in my professional life and a hole in my heart. His final chapter and book are written. He was a one of a kind."
— Dr. Daniel Cook
Dr. Kokich was a pillar in Washington's dental community. He was not only a tremendous educator, who instilled his passion and excitement for dentistry in all his students, but his generosity and advocacy for the profession was unmatched. He will truly be missed.
— Dr. Danny Tremblay
Dr. Vincent G. Kokich Sr.
Dr. Vincent G. Kokich, longtime Washington dentist and WSDA member, died on July 24. He was 68.
Kokich retired from private practice in 2010, but was in the process of renewing his license so that he could once again teach orthodontics at the UWSoD — he was a University of Washington School of Dentistry alumnus and a professor of orthodontics at the school dating to the mid-1970s. Dean Joel Berg said, “As a faculty member, he was instrumental in helping our School establish its reputation as one of the world’s premier centers of orthodontics education. It is incredibly difficult to measure this loss. Vince Kokich will be missed profoundly by all of us.”
A lifelong resident of Tacoma, he attended Lowell Elementary, Mason Junior High and Stadium High School. He graduated from University of Puget Sound and then went on to complete his dentistry and orthodontic degrees at the University of Washington.
Kokich practiced orthodontics in Tacoma for 35 years, during which time he also taught at the University of Washington School of Dentistry and lectured all over the world. A true educator and consummate professional, he constantly worked to improve his craft, becoming a leader in the field of Orthodontics and Interdisciplinary Dentistry. Kokich, a prominent lecturer, presented more than 950 lectures throughout the world. He had been the President of the American Board of Orthodontics and the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry. He retired from his practice and became the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. Dr. Donald Joondeph, former chairman of the UW orthodontics department and past president of the American Association of Orthodontists said, “Dr. Kokich became a revered leader and advocate for interdisciplinary dentistry. He pioneered interdisciplinary treatment concepts — team treatment,” Dr. Joondeph said. “He was one of the very first.”
His accomplishments in orthodontics also included service as president of the American Board of Orthodontics and the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry. He was on the editorial boards of the Journal of the American Dental Association and the Australian Orthodontic Journal. He authored 21 book chapters, 84 scientific articles, 48 review articles and delivered more than 850 presentations nationally and internationally.
In an announcement of Dr. Kokich’s death on the UW School of Dentistry website, Dr. Greg Huang, chair of the orthodontics department, said, “The world has lost one of its finest people, and the orthodontic profession has lost one of its greatest talents. We have all lost a friend and colleague—someone who inspired us to dream big, to strive for excellence in all our endeavors, and, through his life, led by example.”
Though he loved his profession, the greatest love of his life was Marilyn, his wife of 44 years. Together, they made a home in Fircrest where they raised a family and filled it with love, laughter and tradition – extending its reach to nieces, nephews and cousins; all of whom felt at home there. Whether it was dinner together every night, holidays, vacations or spending time at the beach, everything Vince did was with family in mind and he loved nothing more than when family was together.
Kokich leaves behind his wife, Marilyn; mother, Helen; four children, Vince Kokich (Michelle), Mary Boer (Alex), Obie Kokich (Lindsay) and Marija Kokich (Lance); and seven grandchildren, Nicholas, Maddy, Nick, Luke, Kate, Jackson and Mia, all of whom he loved dearly.