Orthodontics has lost one of the “tallest trees in its forest.” Olin Brynilde (O. B.) Vaughan was a giant sequoia, and his death leaves a great void in the hearts and minds of dental professionals around the world. This indefatigable man blessed all around him with a warm, infectious smile and a kind word and was dearly loved and respected by all.
O. B. Vaughan was born on November 11, 1920. His mother passed away when he was 15 years old. O. B. worked as a “soda jerk” at the local drug store and as a duty clerk at the courthouse. He graduated from high school at age 16. At 20, he graduated from West Texas State University in Canyon. Also in his class was the love of his life, Virginia Lee Hussey. O. B. and Virginia Lee married on December 19, 1942. Yes, they were married for 75 years! He earned his DDS from Saint Louis University in 1945 and subsequently an MSD in periodontology from Northwestern University and an MS in orthodontics from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He was an active Naval Reserve dental officer whose service spanned World War II and the Korean War.
When his education was completed, O. B. and Virginia Lee moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where they worked, raised a family, and were role models in their community. He was a solo practitioner until his daughter Janet, a University of Oklahoma orthodontic graduate, joined him in 1992.
O. B. served in the leadership of numerous professional and civic organizations, including the Southwest Society of Orthodontists, the Charles H. Tweed Texas study group, and the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics (ABO). He was a director, president, and subsequently emeriti examiner for the ABO for 30 years. Every candidate who was fortunate enough to have O. B. as an examiner was greeted by an impeccably dressed, astute, courteous, and empathetic examiner. New examiners and new directors who arrived in St Louis to participate in the examination were advised to “watch O. B. and attempt to be just like him.” He was the standard to which all aspired. The ABO holds Dr Vaughan in such high esteem that it created the O. B. Vaughan Award of Recognition, given annually to a doctor who contributes unselfishly of his or her time and talent to orthodontic education and who personifies some of the wonderful personality traits that O. B. possessed.
O.B.’s devotion to orthodontic education was marked by his 11-year tenure on the faculty of the University of Texas, Houston, and 9 years at the University of Texas, San Antonio, where he helped to establish the Graduate Department of Orthodontics. He was a fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, and the Royal Society of Medicine in the United Kingdom. He received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from both Saint Louis University and the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Most notable of his many honors were the Martin Dewey Memorial Award from his Southwest Society of Orthodontists and the Albert H. Ketcham Memorial Award from the ABO.
Fishing, hunting, gardening, swimming, and running were his “active sports.” He and 3 friends who started running in the YMCA Run for Your Life in the 1960s ran 25,000 miles together—the equivalent of circling the earth. His continuous and uninterrupted service as a deacon and Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church of Corpus Christi began in 1950. A 32nd degree Mason, he also served on the Board of Trustees and later on the Board of Directors of the South Texas Children’s Home near Beeville. He and Virginia Lee and their family donated the Vaughan Library and Learning Center in the Piper Foundation Children’s Building at the South Texas Children’s Home.
Perhaps Dr Vaughan was best described by his dear friend, the late Jack Dale, on the presentation of the Albert H. Ketcham Memorial Award to Dr Vaughan at the 2002 American Association of Orthodontists Annual Session in Philadelphia. “Professional gentleman, compassionate in his relationship with his church, his family, his friends and colleagues, role model for fitness and deportment, perpetual student, dedicated teacher, caring clinician, probing and inventive mind, perfectionist, man of dignity, wisdom, and integrity—and precious friend.” With these words, Jack Dale captured the essence of O. B. Vaughan.
Dr Vaughan is survived by his loving wife and soul mate of 75 years, Virginia Lee; 2 daughters, Dr Janet Lynn Vaughan of Corpus Christi and Dr Monte Vaughan Cooper of Dallas; 5 grandchildren, Kim Vaughan Hanysak (an orthodontist) of Waco, Kurt Brynilde Arnold (an attorney) of Houston, Byrn Cooper Maule (an orthodontist) of Houston, Claire Cooper of Los Angeles, and Rel Cooper of Dallas; and 4 great-grandchildren. At his funeral, Dr Vaughan’s minister said, “I look at his life, how he lived, and I see faith, excellence, service, and determination.” Those of us who remain on earth can simply say, “O. B., you made us better humans. We will miss you, but you will always remain with us. Godspeed.”