He keeps alumni smiling brightly

Glendale resident Dr. Rex Ingraham said he gets embarrassed when others call him the "Father of Restorative Dentistry."

"I get all puffed up," Ingraham said. "I don't know how many people call me that, but if they want to call me that, then OK."

During his tenure as faculty member at USC's Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry's faculty, Ingraham spent more than 40 years teaching and leading students and professors. His research pioneered the use of gold foil and cast gold restoration procedures. Additionally, he helped adopt high-speed dental instruments used in modern-day dentistry and lectured about the advanced technology around the globe.

"I'm just extremely happy that I contributed to [USC's School of Dentistry's] strong clinical school," Ingraham said. "I traveled around the world considerably on my lecture tours, and everybody looked up to us USC graduates as top dogs."

Ingraham began his dentistry career in 1941, immediately after he graduated from the USC's School of Dentistry, receiving his doctorate of dental surgery. He was offered a job as an assistant teacher at the School of Dentistry fresh out of college, and in just a few short years he advanced from teaching assistant, to Chairman of Department of Operative Dentistry in 1945, to Interim Dean in 1949, and to eventually leading the School's clinical operations as Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs in 1975.

Ingraham received numerous awards for his dedication to USC's students and faculty, including the Thomas P. Hinman Award, the Metropolitan Denver Dental Society's Award of Merit and Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Torch of Learning Award. Although he retired in 1983, Ingraham remained active in the School of Dentistry and helped recruit many alumni for large donations that contributed to a new second floor in the School's building, named the Rex Ingraham Second Floor Clinic in appreciation of his efforts.

This year, the now 95-year-old Ingraham was notified he received yet another award: The Half Century Trojan Hall of Fame Award. Ingraham was one of two USC alumni awarded for medical training and clinical excellence at the ceremony, held Oct. 15 at USC's Town & Gown in front of nearly 600 members of the USC Alumni Assn.

"I was so thankful," Ingraham said. "My speech was about 35 minutes, and that's all my speech was. I thanked everybody for that particular award."

USC's School of Dentistry Dean Avishai Sadan presented the award to Ingraham, describing the retired professor as the living embodiment of everything that makes alumni proud to be Trojan dental professionals.

"Dr. Ingraham…not only shaped the lives of thousands of students, introduced several clinical breakthroughs to the field of dentistry and accumulated several high-profile awards; he also left an indelible mark on this School that would endure perpetuity," Sadan said during the ceremony.

Ingraham now spends most of his time at home with his wife, Lucille, whom he met during his time as a USC student, but he said he is still a professor at heart. Nowadays, he has one final message of success to share with dentistry students.

"To make it in this field, it's all about honesty," Ingraham said, "honesty and dedication to the profession of dentistry."

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