Memorial service held for School of Dentistry professor, Dr. Ronald Blank
Ronald Paul Blank was born December 8, 1950, in Utica, New York, to William and Betty Blank. One of his early interests was playing the bass guitar in a neighborhood band and his claim to fame was that he went to Woodstock in 1969.
After graduating from Whitesboro Central High in 1969 with high honors he attended Andrews University, completing his pre-dental requirements in two years.
In 1971, he entered dental school at the School of Dentistry. As a student he gained the admiration of his fellow students with strong gifts in scholarship, leadership, and willingness to help others.
He received many awards including the Prince Award, the highest award offered to a graduating senior. He also was presented with the Alumni Association Student of the Year Award and was elected as a member in Omicron Kappa Upsilon Honorary Dental Society. He graduated with the dental class of 1975A.
While he was a dental student he met Sandra LoAnne Lee. The couple married in 1972.
Having received the Navy Health Professions scholarship for dental school, Dr. Blank served three years of active duty in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Virginia, and aboard the destroyer tender USS Puget Sound in the Mediterranean. He then started his own private practice in Romy, New York.
Desiring a career in the U.S. Navy, Dr. Blank re-enlisted and served 27 distinguished years, becoming a highly decorated naval officer. He also received several U.S. Navy achievement and commendation medals.
The Blanks’ daughter, Cariann, was born in Utica, New York, in 1979.
Some of his duty stations included: Guam (where son, Travis, was born in 1981); Camp Pendleton, California; Bremerton, Washington, which included the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson; Bethesda, Maryland; and Winter Harbor, Maine. Upon his retirement as a commander in 1998, he was invited to become a member of the School of Dentistry faculty as assistant professor in the department of oral diagnosis, radiology, and pathology. He later became professor and chair of the department. His positive impact on the faculty and students is well known.
Much loved by his students, he was voted Teacher of the Year for 2002. He also received the Pierre Fauchard Academy Teacher of the Year Award.
On April 11, 2001, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He retired in February 2003 when his health no longer permitted him to continue his duties.
In his desire to help others with ALS he established the ALS Foundation of Research and Clinical Evaluation (FORCE). After a valiant fight with ALS, he went to his rest on December 23, 2005. He will be greatly missed.