‘Once in a century’ man
Intellectual curiosity is Dr. Terry Rees’ hallmark; his penchant for digging deep to solve the most challenging cases at Texas A&M College of Dentistry’s Stomatology Center. Day in, day out, he inspired residents and other colleagues to do the same.
After 33 years in the college’s Department of Periodontics — during which he founded and directed the world-renowned Stomatology Center and served as professor and department head for 13 years — this 1968 periodontics graduate celebrated his retirement at a reception on Aug. 18.
Rees’ open-door policy and willingness to share time and answer questions were common threads among the remarks at his retirement reception. Former students, faculty colleagues, practicing periodontists and a stomatology patient praised not only Rees’ vast professional knowledge but also his character and kindness.
“I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for what you’ve done for me the past 14 years,” said patient Everett Lee, whom Rees treated for graft vs. host disease following his stem cell transplant to fight leukemia. “I had been through so many specialists, and you took me under your wing and helped me navigate all the problems I had to take care of with my mouth. I’m unquestionably grateful.”
Rees’ caring manner with patients who were often suffering from unusual oral diseases belied the frenetic neurons at work in his brain while he evaluated their history and symptoms — drawing upon information gleaned through voracious journal reading and decades of experience with mucocutaneous diseases.
Rees had high expectations for those he mentored, earning their respect and gratitude. These highly trained specialists continued to refer their most demanding cases to him long after they graduated. The same colleagues nominated Rees for the American Academy of Periodontology’s outstanding educator award, which he received in 2013.
Dental education is actually Rees’ second career: A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Rees received his dental degree from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in Memphis, and came to the Dallas dental school after retiring from the U.S. Army Dental Corps.
Here’s a sampling of accolades from the reception:
“All but two of my 17 patients the other day were influenced by what this man has taught me.”— Dr. D. Bradley Dean ’87, ’90 (Perio)
“Dr. Rees has always been available as a mentor and friend. His kind demeanor and humility will always be an inspiration to me.”— Dr. Marshal Goldberg ’80, ’89 (Perio)
“I stand in awe of what you’ve done over the years. I hope I can stay with it as long and as well as you did.”— Dr. Pat Allen ’69, ’72 (Perio)
“How often do you meet a man like Dr. Rees? Not often. He is a born teacher and a born helper.”— Dr. Tom Cockerell of Fort Worth
“Terry widened the scope of periodontics with his emphasis on stomatology and created a bridge between dentistry and medicine. He always had patients and patient care first and foremost in his mind.”— Dr. Thomas Diekwisch, professor and department head of periodontics
Rees’ summation of all the praise and adoration, understated as always: “I’m just another guy trying to do a good job.”
Time to travel
Though home base will remain in Dallas, Dr. Terry Rees and his wife, Bo, plan to use their suitcases frequently. A September trip to New Hampshire and Maine is first up on the travel agenda, followed by a cruise to French Polynesia in October that culminates with stays on Tahiti and the island of Morea.
“Bo and I have always enjoyed travel and have been to every state and all but one national park in the Lower 48, although only three in Alaska, so we still have a few goals,” Rees says.
“We also have traveled a lot overseas and have finally decided we like Norway the best. We now enjoy going back to places that we liked before — without six kids, three dogs and two cats — to find out more about why we liked those places in the first place. We plan to hurry and get to all bucket list sites if we can.”