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Tufts University School of Dental Medicine Distinguished Professor Emeritus H. Chris Doku Has Passed Away

Friday, November 12, 2021
H. Chris Doku

Dr. H. Chris Doku, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine who served as Chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for 33 years, passed away on November 10, 2021.

Dr. Chris Doku passed away after an extraordinary life of teaching, patient care, and service to his profession and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine.

He was a beloved husband of the late Teddi Doku for 60 years, brother of the late Dr. Joanna Doku and Dr. Kitsa Fields, and brother-in-law of Geraldine Phillips. He is survived by his adored daughter Deadra Doku-Gardner and her partner Timothy Gover, three nieces and their families, and the Gover and McKinnon families. He was 93.

Dr. Doku was born in 1928 in Istanbul, Turkey and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1962. He received his first dental degree from the University of Istanbul and further continued his studies at Tufts University in Boston receiving his Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree as well as his specialty degree in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. Dr. Doku completed residencies at Tufts University, St. Francis Hospital in Harford CT, and at the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama. He later was awarded a Master of Science in Oral Surgery (MSD).

Dr. Doku was appointed to the faculty at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1957 and served as Professor and Chairman of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery from 1965 to 1998. During his 41 years at Tufts, he served at the Veterans Administration Medical Centers of Boston, the Chelsea Soldiers Home, the Fernald State School, Carney Medical Center, and Boston City Hospital. After Tufts University approved awarding tenure at the Dental School in 1964, he was one of the first dental school faculty to be granted tenure. In 1992, Dr. Doku was also the first professor from the School of Dental Medicine to be awarded Distinguished University Professor status. He was recognized with the Emeritus Professor Award in 1998. In addition, he received an Honorary Doctor Degree from the University of Athens in 1988. In 2005, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine awarded Dr. Doku the Dean’s Medal.

Dr. Doku also held appointments as Associate Dean of Hospital Affairs at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and Dentist in Chief at Tufts-New England Medical Center. His leadership and commitment had significant influence on faculty and student careers, advancement of programs and patient care services at the School, at the University, and at national and international levels.

“Doku” (as he was known) had an extraordinary career - he loved his chosen profession, the people he worked with, the patients he treated, and his countless number of students in Boston and around the world. He was an exceptional mentor to those lucky enough to study and serve under him. To quote some of his students and residents: “He was strict but always encouraging and a father figure to us all, a superb educator and surgeon”; “We will remember him always with love and as a source of inspiration and always as our teacher”; “We will forever be grateful to his legacy of residents and students, who went on to be professors and mentors, and leaders in the field”; “He was a luminous beacon of excellence, integrity, competence and ethics. His vivid memory will remain in our hearts and minds”.

He was a motivating presence to the end of his life, often saying to those who visited him that he was happy and satisfied with his life.

He travelled the world, teaching and enjoying the different cultures and students he taught. But most importantly, he adored his family and his friends. He will be dearly missed by all.

Visiting hours for “the fully vaccinated” will be held at George F. Doherty 477 Washington St., Wellesley, MA on Sunday, November 14 from 4pm to 7pm. Funeral Services will be private.

In lieu of flowers please consider a contribution to the Dr. H. Chris Doku, Professor Emeritus and Distinguished University Professor Scholarship c/o Marianne Blaney, Director, Tufts Dental Fund, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, One Kneeland Street Boston, MA 02111.