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In Memoriam: Dr. Robert D. Buchanan, D46, the Man Behind the Statue

Friday, August 27, 2021
Robert Buchanan sits next to statue of self on bench in TUSDM lobby
Robert Buchanan sitting next to a bronze statue of himself on a bench in the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine lobby

Dr. Robert D. Buchanan, D46, is remembered as a loyal alumnus, dental practitioner, educator, gentleman of dedication and character, and philanthropist. Born on May 8, 1922 in "The County" of Northern Maine, he sadly passed at the age of 99 on August 11, 2021 in Pueblo, Colorado.

“On behalf of the students, faculty, and staff at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, we express our deepest sympathy on the passing of our dear friend, Dr. Robert D. Buchanan, D46. Our thoughts are with his family during this most challenging time. The reputation of TUSDM is due in great part to the success of our alumni, and Dr. Buchanan brought pride and honor to his school and our profession,” shares Dean Nadeem Karimbux.

A notable philanthropist, he gave generously to numerous charities, his hometown church, and his university alma maters. Dr. Buchanan's presence is widely felt at TUSDM. He had previously supported renovating the old entrance to the School of Dental Medicine and a statue in his honor currently welcomes all visitors to the new TUSDM Lobby. In 1996, on the occasion of his 50th reunion, he created a $1.5-million trust to establish the school's first departmental chair, in operative dentistry. Dr. Buchanan was awarded a Dean's Medal from the School of Dental Medicine in 1998. In celebration of his class' 60th anniversary in 2006, Dr. Buchanan made a $1-million planned gift to benefit the school's building renovation. His was the first major gift toward the vertical expansion project that added five floors to the school's building at One Kneeland Street. In recognition of this gift, the Fifteenth Floor Lobby was named in his honor. “Dr. Buchanan’s latest gift will—literally—bring our school to new heights,” said Professor and Dean Emeritus Lonnie Norris at the time.

Dr. Buchanan grew up in Caribou, Maine, where he graduated from high school in 1939, from the University of Maine in 1944 (with a degree in zoology), and from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1946. During his ten years in the US Army, he achieved the rank of major, practiced dentistry at a prison camp in the Philippines, and led a mobile dental unit near a combat zone in South Korea. Dr. Buchanan retired from private practice in Whittier, California, and from teaching as a clinical professor of operative dentistry at the University of Southern California, and resided in Pueblo, Colorado with his family nearby. He was an enthusiastic traveler and took great pleasure in the open road. He played the clarinet when he was young and sang in church choirs for much of his life. He loved peanut butter cups and old westerns.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Roy and Gertrude Buchanan; his half-brothers, Gerald and Donald Buchanan; his first wife, Maxine Buchanan; and his second wife, Pearlee Buchanan. He is survived by his son, Robert Buchanan, and his daughter, Lisa Buchanan, and their families. He is survived as well by his second wife’s son, Micky Bonham, and daughters, Georgia Walker, Susie Galer, and Peggy Cronin, and their families.