Smiles we remember

Dr. Ellsworth James Cundiff Jr.
June 26th, 2023

Dr. E. James Cundiff Jr.

Dr. E. James Cundiff Jr., a longtime faculty member of Texas A&M School of Dentistry, passed away at age 89 on March 13. Cundiff is remembered as a favorite among students, the school’s first oral pathologist and also an avid water skier and photographer.

Cundiff was born in 1934 in Canyon, Texas, to Dr. E.J. Cundiff and Mamie Dunaway Cundiff. He followed in his father’s footsteps, earning his dental degree at Texas A&M School of Dentistry (then known as Baylor College of Dentistry) in 1960. He opened a private practice in Dallas, and after suffering a severe injury to his hand in a water skiing accident, he enrolled in a residency program with Indiana University School of Dentistry, specializing in oral pathology. Cundiff rejoined his alma mater as a faculty member in 1970, becoming Texas A&M School of Dentistry’s first oral pathologist, teaching classes and lecturing across the country. He celebrated a well-earned retirement in 2003.

Cundiff married Janet Barnes in 1972. He was a member of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church and the Dallas Ski Club. For about 20 years, he also served as a photographer for the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, according to colleague Dr. John Wright. Cundiff is remembered as someone who was thoughtful and easy to get along with. Students and colleagues sought to share happy moments with him.

“He would host groups of students out on Lake Ray Hubbard during the summer for a day,” Wright said. “He was quite good [at water skiing]. He loved to teach and really cared about the students. He was an unbelievably kind man.”

Cundiff is survived by his wife, Janet; nephew Robert Phillips; nieces Julie Esgar and Marcia Lewis and many other great- and great-great-nieces and nephews.

“He was a prince of a person,” Wright said. “We all enjoyed working with him.”

— Caleb Vierkant

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Smiles we remember