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Updated 9:30 AM April 2, 2007




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Dr. Major McKinley Ash

Dr. Major McKinley Ash, considered a world leader and icon in dentistry, died March 21 at 85 in Scottsdale, Ariz. after a battle with metastatic bone cancer.
(Photo courtesy School Of Dentistry)

Born in Bellaire, Mich. April 7, 1921, to Major McKinley and Marguerite (Early) Ash, he grew up in Miami, Fla.

Ash received his electrical engineering degree at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1942 and a certification in physics a year later from the University of Chicago.

During World War II he became certified in radar technology from the U.S. Army Institute, repairing radar damaged on the war front. He was wounded seriously during the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and the Croix de Guerre.

Following rehabilitation in Georgia and Florida, he resumed his education at Michigan State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. There he met Fayola Foltz and they were married Sept. 2, 1947.

He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1951 from Emory University in Georgia and extended his education at U-M to earn a master's degree in periodontics in 1954. While working for the degree, he was an instructor in periodontics and oral pathology. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1956, associate professor in 1959 and full professor in 1962.

During his distinguished 53-year career with the School of Dentistry, Ash established a global reputation as a clinical researcher, prolific writer, mentor and professor extraordinaire, colleagues say.

Active throughout his career with local, state, national and international dental and periodontal associations, Ash was a fellow with the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists; a consultant to the Northeast Regional Dental Boards; and was involved with the Federation International Dentaire; the Commission on Oral Health, Research and Epidemiology; the ADA Council on Dental Therapeutics; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He was a member of numerous honorary societies, including serving as president of the Michigan State Basic Science Board and an examiner in pathology for medical, osteopathic and chiropractic applicants who wished to practice in Michigan.

He also has been listed for many years in the Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Science, and Who's Who in the World. As part of his international reputation, he received an honorary Doctorate of Medicine in 1976 from the University of Bern, Switzerland.

At U-M, Ash founded and chaired the first occlusion department in the United States from 1969-87, directed the TMJ/Oral Facial Pain Clinic and Stomatognathic Physiology Laboratory from 1969-87 and was a member of many school committees, including the executive committee. He received the school's Distinguished Service Award in 1992.

Ash was named the Marcus L. Ward Professor of Dentistry in 1984, and upon his retirement in 1989 was named Marcus L. Ward Professor of Dentistry Emeritus, Professor Emeritus, and Research Scientist Emeritus.

Ash published more than 200 articles in scientific journals and was well known for his 70 textbooks, some of which have been published in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Polish.

During his career Ash did field research with the Nubians in Southern Egypt, developed the first miniaturized electronic tooth and was mentor to more than 100 graduate students.

His last 15 winters were enjoyed in Scottsdale. Ash continued to be active as an author, editor, reviewer and mentor. He was a long-time member of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor.

A memorial will be held later this month with the date to be announced.

Donations may be made to the Dr. Major Ash Collegiate Professorship, care of U-M School of Dentistry, Office of Alumni Relations and Development, 540 E. Liberty Street, Suite 204, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2210. Please make checks payable to the U-M School of Dentistry. Gifts also may be made to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (
—Submitted by Jerry Mastey, School of Dentistry

The Record accepts obituaries from University departments, family members and funeral homes acting on behalf of the family. All obituaries must be for active or retired faculty and staff members.

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