Kruper developed dental school’s behavioral sciences department

Emeritus Professor Donald Curtis Kruper, first chair of the behavioral sciences department in the School of Dental Medicine, died on Feb. 21, 2022.

Kruper earned his Ph.D. in psychology from Pitt. At the dental school, he started and developed his department, retiring in 1991.

During his tenure, he was instrumental in establishing the Dental Fears Clinic Evaluation and Treatment Center, which offers dental care to people whose fear of dentistry might otherwise keep them away from seeking and receiving such care. The clinic encompasses faculty members from anesthesiology, behavioral sciences, pharmacology and physiology. 

He also was crucial to the creation of the Behavioral Sciences Group (now Behavioral, Epidemiologic and Health Services Research Group) of the International Association for Dental Research.

Before joining the dental school, Kruper oversaw a primate research laboratory involved in brain studies, which was affiliated with Montefiore Hospital, across from Salk Hall.

He was born in 1929, grew up in Smithton, Pa., and attended high school in Connellsville before joining the Navy, where he served as a hospital corpsman from 1948 through 1952.

He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Winnie; daughter Martha (Straw); sons Thom (Melinda) and Curtis; stepchildren Craig (Becky) and Mark (Vera) Shafer; grandchildren William, Madeline, Timothy, Rusty, Riley, Mahala, and Clay; and nieces and nephews James, Jay, Judy, Sally, William, Maryellen, Dean, Reed and Todd.

Memorial gifts are suggested to the White Elephant, 601 N. La Canada, Green Valley, AZ 85614.

— Marty Levine