Peter G. Sotiropoulos was born in Springfield, Illinois, on November 1, 1924; he passed away after a lengthy illness on July 7, 2017. He attended high school and college in Springfield, while also working in the family businesses (candy store and restaurant) with his brother Gus and cousin Leo Mastorakos. All three would become respected orthodontists and educators. Pete graduated from the Saint Louis University School of Dentistry in 1948 and received his MS degree in orthodontics in 1950 from the same institution; he was the first graduate of the orthodontic program. He served in the United States Air Force from 1951 to 1953 and was the first orthodontist to serve in the European theater. Upon his return to the United States, he settled in St Louis and married Betty Ann Brandt. They had 4 children—George, Susan, Thomas, and Tracy—and all 4 chose careers in medicine. Indicative of his dedication to orthodontics, Peter and Betty honeymooned in Tucson, Arizona, where he attended the Tweed course.
As an educator, Dr Sotiropoulos played an important role in the academic and clinical education of approximately 700 residents now scattered throughout the world. He was actively involved in some 300 research projects. Many of his former students have attained national and international repute. Together with his brother Gus, he conducted a large and successful practice of orthodontics in Belleville, Illinois, for over 40 years. Throughout his career, he lectured extensively at professional and civic meetings as well as in the university environment, both at Saint Louis University and across the country.
Despite his busy university life and active practice, Dr Sotiropoulos still had time to participate in church affairs, civic activities, and many professional roles. He served as president of the St Louis Society of Orthodontists and the Illinois State Society of Orthodontists, and as a member of many local and national societies. He served as the executive director of the Orthodontic Education and Research Foundation from its inception in 1957 until 2001. He received numerous awards and accolades from many organizations. He was a member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon honorary fraternity and a fellow in both the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists. He received the Alumni Merit Award from the Saint Louis University School of Dentistry Alumni Association in 1969. In 1980, he received the Merit Award from the Orthodontic Education and Research Foundation, he received the American Board of Orthodontics Recognition Award in 1984, and he was elected executive director emeritus of the Orthodontic Education and Research Foundation in 2001. In 2006, he was made an honorary member of the Greek Association for Study and Research.
Pete became a member of the School of Dentistry faculty in 1948 and was eventually promoted to the rank of professor in 1969. He served as acting chairman of the Department of Orthodontics in 1983 and 1984 and again in 1991 and 1992. It is only fitting, and indeed a tribute, that in 1992 he was selected to become the chairman of the Graduate Department of Orthodontics at Saint Louis University, a post he held until 1998. He became director of the Center for Advanced Dental Education in 1994 and held that important position until 1998. He was again asked to serve as interim director of the Center for Advanced Dental Education from 2001 to 2003. In 2003, he was elected to the rank of professor emeritus. “Dr Pete” remained a faculty member until 2011. Amazingly, he served his university, his students, his patients, and his specialty very well for over 60 years.
The history of the Saint Louis University orthodontic program reflects the enthusiasm, loyalty, and drive of its iconic leaders of which “Dr Pete” was one. But considering his entire career, he modestly proclaimed “Really, I am the lucky one. I am very thankful and blessed to have worked with such terrific people all these years.”
His concern, his effort, and his willingness to share his knowledge and experience have engendered love and respect from his colleagues, friends, and students. He was a person of unusual dedication and value who influenced many lives in a positive direction. He never stopped giving to the program and students. In response, a professorship that bears his name attempts to acknowledge his contributions and reflects gratitude for a life devoted to the service to others. Best of all, his influence will endure in perpetuity.