Dr Ronald Allen Bell, professor of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics at the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, died at his Johns Island, South Carolina, home on July 29, 2014.
Ron was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on July 7, 1947, and attended Tulane University. He received his DDS degree from Louisiana State University in 1973, and at the same time he earned a masters of education degree. After serving 3 years in the US Army Dental Corps, Ron returned to New Orleans to earn a certificate in pedodontics at Louisiana State University (1978). In 1987, he earned a second specialty certificate in orthodontics at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. After spending his early career teaching at the Medical College of Georgia in both pediatric dentistry and orthodontics, Ron accepted the position of chairman of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics at the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, and held that position until 2004. During and after that time, he was the director of the Postgraduate Program in Pediatric Dentistry at Children’s Hospital and the director of the Postgraduate Program in Orthodontics, both at the College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Ron was a former president of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and of the College of Diplomates, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. In addition, he was a fellow of the Pierre Fauchard Academy, a member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon, and a fellow of the American College of Dentists. He was selected for “America’s Top Dentists” awards from 2003 to 2013 and “America’s Top Teachers” awards from 2004 to 2013, and was named Outstanding Alumnus at Louisiana State University School of Dentistry in 2002.
Andy Sonis of Newton, Massachusetts, said, “Many of us in academics admired Ron’s accomplishments. However, what truly distinguished Ron was a unique relationship with his residents. During their 2-year tenure, Ron served not only as their teacher and mentor, but also as their spiritual and personal adviser. He truly loved his residents, and they loved him back! Great friends are hard to come by, and many of us, both professionally and personally, have lost a great friend.”
Ron Bell’s achievements could fill several columns, but as his many friends, family, and colleagues will attest, he had many interests. He loved a good party, good music, and good food. He had a vast knowledge of specialty beers, and his collection of beer bottles fills many shelves. He could talk about great meals he remembered from Galatoire’s, Peninsula Grill, The Bon Ton, Middendorf’s, and hundreds more restaurants. Every swift kick of swamp rock and roll, swig of hopped-up beer, or reassuring smile from a child who had been fearful of the dentist will remind all of us of Ron Bell. Each spring, Ron and his friends met at the New Orleans Jazz Fest under their LA/SC flag. He had even become a fine painter in oils. Recently, the governor of South Carolina bestowed the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, on Dr Bell for his contributions to the people of the state.
His friends and colleagues have established the first named endowment at Medical University of South Carolina: the Dr Ronald A. Bell Endowment in Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics. Also, a lecture series is planned to honor his legacy.
Dr Bell is survived by his wife of 46 years, Marti, and son Matthew Allen Bell of Charleston, South Carolina.