Honoring the legacy

More than just a name
August 8th, 2018

Beth Daniel Voorhees (far right) with, from left: daughter Mary Voorhees Meehan; Sarah Rountree Schlessinger, Daniel’s fiancé; Dr. Daniel Voorhees; and Dr. Fred Voorhees.

Beth Daniel Voorhees 80′ (DH) can still remember the first time she saw her husband, Dr. Fred Voorhees ’77, ’82, then an oral and maxillofacial surgery graduate student. Or rather, the first time he saw her.

“I was having a procedure done by Dr. Byrd, the oral surgery department chair,” says Voorhees, who at the time was in her first year of dental hygiene school. Ever resourceful, Fred found her name on her chart, asked a dental student friend for her number, called her up and asked if she wanted to go to a Halloween party.

“I remember calling my mom and telling her I was going out with this guy on a blind date, and that I was going to break the date,” Voorhees says. “My mom said, ‘No, you can’t break it; your father and I met on a blind date.’”

A few days later, Voorhees found herself at the downtown bus station, intercepting the Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm costumes her mom had lovingly fashioned for the soon-to-be couple and thrown onto a bus from Hot Springs, Arkansas, bound for Dallas.

“It was the most fun party,” Voorhees recalls. “We were nonstop after that.”

The two married the next year, before they graduated. It’s just one of many poignant memories for Voorhees that transpired at what is now Texas A&M College of Dentistry. She was a teenager when her father, Dr. Robert Guinn Daniel ’53, ’70 — who had for years maintained a successful general dentistry practice in Hot Springs, Arkansas — fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming an orthodontist by completing the graduate program at what was then known as Baylor University College of Dentistry. He wasn’t the only one in his family to frequent the college during those years.

“I spent a lot of time walking the halls and clinic and got to know the instructors who were here,” she recalls. “And so eight years later, I returned as a dental hygiene student. A lot of the instructors and staff I had gotten to know were still here. It was like going back home to me.”

Same, too, for her brother, Dr. John Daniel ’87. And now the Voorhees’ son, Dr. Daniel Voorhees ’18.

“I think for Daniel it was really important for him to go here because of the legacy,” says Voorhees. “The first thing he did when he got to the school was find his dad’s, uncle’s and grandfather’s composite photos.

“For Daniel to hear compliments on his grandfather and his dad, it was really meaningful for him to be a part of that. For our entire family, the legacy has been important.”

As this year’s graduation neared and construction on the college’s new Clinic and Education Building progressed, the Voorhees and Beth’s mother, Mary, contributed a $25,000 gift to name an operatory in memory of Beth’s father. A gift from her brother named a resident study area in their father’s memory.

“My dad was always proud that dentistry stayed in our family. I just can’t say enough about how much the school means to us. This has been a way to remember my dad and honor people who had a real influence on our lives while we were there, both as dental professionals and human beings,” says Voorhees.

“Despite the name change, we feel that the college has had a tradition of producing really excellent clinical dentists, and we want that tradition to continue.”

— Jennifer Fuentes