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April 14, 2005

Obituary: Robert Rapp

Former chair of Pitt’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry professor emeritus Robert Rapp died April 6, 2005, from complications of multiple sclerosis. He was 75.

A pioneer in pediatric dentistry, Rapp authored the 1978 book, “A Color Atlas of Clinical Conditions in Pedodontics,” which was translated into at least seven languages.

“That book presented a reference on pediatric conditions where there wasn’t one like it before,” said Deborah Studen-Pavlovich, professor and chair of the University’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry. Rapp was Studen-Pavlovich’s teacher and program director during her residency.

Rapp came to Pitt in 1965 as an associate professor. He chaired the pediatric dentistry department from 1965 until he retired in 1990. He became a full professor in 1968. He was director of the school’s dental auxiliary utilization program, 1965-1974. In 1989, he was named a professor of research and pediatric dentistry.

Rapp earned his D.D.S. at the University of Toronto in 1953 and his M.S. at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry in 1956.

He was assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Dentistry from 1962 to 1965 before coming to Pitt.

In 1983, Rapp received an award of excellence from the Pennsylvania Society of Dentistry for Children. Recently, he was honored for his contributions to pediatric dentistry in Canada. “There was never a doubt in my mind that Bob wanted to be a pediatric dentist,” recalled his wife, Constance Rapp. “He loved children and he was a camp counselor.”

Rapp established a dental clinic in the late 1960s at Pitt to treat special-needs patients who are physically, mentally and emotionally challenged. The clinic still serves those patients today.

Besides his wife, Rapp is survived by two sons, Jason Rapp of New York City and Jordan Rapp of Los Angeles.

Memorial contributions can be sent to the Dr. Robert Rapp Fund, Pitt’s School of Dental Medicine, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, 366 Salk Hall, or the MS Service Society, 3005 Banksville Rd., Pittsburgh, 15216.

—Mary Ann Thomas

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