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April 28, 2005

Obituary: Lee Johns

Lee Johns, associate director of predoctoral periodontics in the School of Dental Medicine, died unexpectedly this month at his Moon home. He was 50.

Johns, an associate professor in the Department of Periodontics, was popular among his students for his objectivity, fairness, social grace and humor, according to faculty colleague Ali Seyedain.

Dental medicine Dean Thomas W. Braun said of Johns: “As both a person and a colleague, Lee possessed the highest integrity and was well appreciated by students and faculty alike. He is one of those extraordinary faculty members that has been consistent in contributing to the school. He will be missed terribly for much time to come.”

Born in Canton, Ohio, Johns received his B.A. in chemistry in 1976, graduating magna cum laude from Washington and Jefferson College. While he was an undergraduate, he lettered in football.

Johns came to Pitt’s School of Medicine in 1976 for graduate study. The next year, he enrolled in the School of Dental Medicine, where he earned his D.M.D. in 1981. Johns was an instructor in the histology lab in the Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, and a graduate fellow in the Department of Periodontics in the late 1980s. He did a one-year general dentistry residency at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Oakland in 1981.

Johns was a clinical assistant professor of periodontics from 1988 to 1996 and was promoted to assistant professor in 1996. Additionally, he served stints as director of predoctoral periodontics and director of graduate periodontics.

He was past chair of the periodontics section of the American Dental Education Association.

In additional to his work at Pitt, Johns maintained private practices in Moon and Wilkins townships. He was a member of the dental team for the U.S. Army Reserves, 317th Medical Detachment in the early 1980s. He served in the U.S. Army as a dental officer and captain from 1982 to 1986. Johns was a dental officer and a major from 1986 to 1995 in the Reserves, where he continued to serve as an officer, most recently a colonel and a periodontist, until his death.

He is survived by his wife, Linda Kelly, an assistant professor in Pitt’s dental hygiene program; his mother, Rena Johns; a brother, Phillip, and two sisters, Amanda Thiessen and Jennifer Sheekey.

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