BY: DUFFY MALHERBE
On the 28th of October, a man without an equal in the denturist profession has passed away. The integrity and dedication he displayed throughout his career and the standards set in striving for national recognition in the USA have been significant factors in achieving the level of professionalism and the status that denturists enjoy today. Bruce was the last to consider himself worthy of honor; he had uncompromising respect for his profession and determined that every citizen should have the right to choose the services of the dedicated men and women who chose this profession as their calling. He also had a firm belief that education is the avenue for this professional recognition.
Originally from Norwood, Massachusetts, Bruce attended one of the oldest day-boarding schools in the USA, the Worcester Academy. He also studied at Covenant College at Lookout Mountain in Georgia. In 1970 Bruce was practicing as a certified dental technician and owned a dental laboratory in Florida when he was introduced to denturism. He became involved with the Florida Denturist Society. This Florida group knew that education was the key, so they enrolled in courses at the Florida Dental School, believing the education would qualify them for recognition as denturists; this excellent education offered them a diploma in expanded duties. They founded the American Academy of Denturitry, a two-year program that required a two-year externship. A lifetime of dedicated lobbying for recognition in various states followed, with numerous confrontations from the monopolized opposition.
Bruce was instrumental in organizing the Indian Tribal Denturist Association, an education, and certification program. This education was helpful for the initial licensure for the applicants in Washington State and individuals certified through this program continue to serve patients on Native American Tribal lands. Believing education is the answer towards legislated recognition, and to support and encourage others, Bruce attended college to earn a Batchelor’s degree, and even though he had passed the state board examinations and already received his denturist license in Washington State, he also enrolled and received his denturist diploma from George Brown College in Toronto, Canada. He also shared in tuition expenses for denturist students.
One would be hard-pressed to imagine Bruce without his equally-dedicated wife Wanda beside him. For many years she has been a strong supporter and helpmate working alongside him in his efforts towards nationwide denturist recognition and regulation. She wrote several articles to promote the profession and published them in the New York Times. For about seven years Wanda was the Executive Director of the National Denturist Association and Editor of the NDA Magazine. For a long time, during the beginning years of the Magazine, the Andersons bankrolled the expense of publishing, until it became self-sufficient. This publication has established the vehicle to convey the importance of denturists.
In his Denture Clinic in Poulsbo, Washington, Bruce has been known to trade a denture for an apple pie for an elderly woman on a fixed income, who desperately needed new dentures, but with an embarrassing tear admitted, there was no money for the high cost of dentures. For many years Bruce served patients referred from one of the community churches that give hand-outs to individuals in need and was rewarded when he saw someone, apparently down on his luck, become revived with confidence because of a new healthy smile.
Bruce enjoyed sharing the story of the young mother with three children, who had been deserted by their father but did not want to rely on welfare. She had neglected her own needs, providing for her children and by the time she visited Bruce’s denture clinic, she was edentulous. She made no eye contact and kept her head lowered, looking at the floor with her hand in front of her mouth. Finances were a major issue, but she wanted to pay. Bruce charged her a dollar. A new woman emerged the instant he seated her dentures. Her unyielding broad smile brought tears to everyone. She enrolled in College and that woman became a school teacher. Bruce Anderson was a selfless hero, who strove to find the best in others. This humble pioneer will be remembered for being a gallant servant, always reaching out to the destitute, with compassion and sympathy for people’s needs to restore the dignity of the edentulous, with care and respect.
During the 8th World Symposium on Denturism in 2013 in Montreal, Quebec, Bruce Anderson was presented the Sterkenburger Award by the International Federation of Denturists, in recognition for his unyielding commitment to the denturist profession.
Bruce turned 76 earlier this year. He was retired after selling his clinic and spending quality time with the families of their 3 sons. On Sunday morning he departed to spend eternity with his Maker. Bruce leaves his wife Wanda, Chris and Gina, Glen and Shelly, Eric and Sarah, and 8 grandchildren. He also leaves a legacy of compassion, denturists who change lives – one smile at a time! Those who were fortunate enough to have known him, have been enriched by friendship, by his example, and his integrity. The IFD and denturists worldwide will miss you immensely Bruce, but your legacy will endure.