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Honoring a True Dental Pioneer

by Kristin Dumont

The late Dr. Adolph Bushell will be remembered through a fund at the UConn School of Dental Medicine that will support student volunteer opportunities.

Dr. Adolph Bushell was a man of many talents. He was a distinguished endodontist—considered the father of endodontics in Connecticut—and a world traveler, lecturer, and author whose articles are considered seminal works in the field. He was a silversmith, who taught jewelry-making at dental meetings, an avid gardener, and a prolific chocolatier, among other things. But most notably, he was a devoted humanitarian, who dedicated his life to serving those in need through volunteer missions here and abroad.

“Service to others was his lifelong pursuit that began early in his career,” says his wife, Bibi Bushell, a retired college professor. “And one that he wished generations to follow would pursue and enjoy as he much as he did.”

In his memory, Mrs. Bushell has established the Dr. Adolph Bushell Fund for Dental Student Volunteer Missions at UConn’s School of Dental Medicine to encourage students to participate in varied service opportunities. This fund will inspire students to get involved with helping the underserved and enhancing their overall wellbeing.

Dr. Bushell’s humanitarian efforts spanned the globe. He served as a dental specialist on the medical ship Project Hope, which took him to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Jamaica. He travelled to Cambodia and Guatemala with Heal the Children and led a group of UConn dental students on a volunteer mission to the Amazon River-area of Iquitos, Peru.

He also made several trips to Haiti to set up dental clinics and offered dental treatment to those in need. In most of these places, there were no dental offices or sophisticated equipment. He would set up a chair under a tree and extract teeth for the patients who lined up for free care. On these missions, he would bring little toys or gifts to put nervous children at ease during their treatment.  

At home in Connecticut, he worked with the Mission of Mercy program, and helped to establish The Brooker Memorial Clinic in Torrington, which provides dental services to uninsured children. His altruism extended beyond dental/medical missions. He was actively involved in civic organizations, like Hartford Rotary Club. On weekends he would collect used bicycles, clothing, and toys for children in underfunded school districts.

He worked tirelessly with International Rotary Club on their “Polio Plus” campaign to help eradicate the disease worldwide. In appreciation, Rotary International presented him with the Paul Harris Fellow Award for Humanitarian Service. Of the numerous awards and honors he received, he was most proud of being honored in 2010 in San Diego by the American Association of Endodontists with the Lifetime Dental Community Volunteer Spirit of Service Award. Out of more than 5,000 members he was chosen to receive this prestigious award for his humanitarianism, generosity, and dedication to helping those in need.

With a busy practice and significant community outreach activities, Dr. Bushell still found time to build collaboration and camaraderie among dentists in Connecticut. He founded and was the first president of the Connecticut Association of Endodontists; taught for the first 10 years of UConn’s endodontic residency program; and was instrumental in the establishment of UConn’s dental school, having served on the board of Friends of the School of Dental Medicine where he helped support the Dean in recruiting and long-range planning.

“Dr. Bushell was the true image of a man of all seasons – someone that all of us should aspire to emulate”

-Dr. John Russo

The Dr. Adolph Bushell Fund for Dental Student Volunteer Missions will help prepare aspiring dentists for the kind of service that Dr. Bushell embodied throughout his career and expand his legacy of humanitarianism and professional excellence well into the future.

“As a human being, he will be remembered for his goodness, kindness, generosity, integrity, and honesty,” said Dr. John Russo, a former student of Dr. Bushell and close friend. “Dentistry was the love of his life, as was his dedication to caring for people from all walks of life. Dr. Bushell was the true image of a man of all seasons – someone that all of us should aspire to emulate, one who deserves all the kudos and acclaim he earned over a long and fulfilling lifetime.”

Help us honor Dr. Bushell’s memory and support UConn dental students by giving to the Dr. Adolph Bushell Fund for Dental Student Volunteer Missions.

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