Bonded by Love: Legacy Dental Families
For many alumni of the Ohio State College of Dentistry, “family practice” refers to more than clientele; it also describes their own family’s multigenerational dental business following graduation.
In celebration of its legacy families, the college held a reception before 2014’s white coat ceremonies for the parents, grandparents, and siblings of recipients who themselves are alumni. It’s the first of several regular gatherings the college has planned to bring legacy families together with their university.
Susan Wilson ’83 DDS attended to see her daughter, Maurina Brooks, receive her white coat, making her the first female African American legacy.
“I was proud of her and excited for her,” Wilson said. “Nothing like this has ever happened in our family before. It was kind of surreal.”
After Maurina graduates, Wilson and her daughter plan to go into business together at Wilson's practice just east of downtown Columbus—the city’s first practice started by an African American woman.
For Maurina, the practice became part of her daily routine at an early age, when her mother made the decision to home-school her. Every day, after finishing their lessons, mother and daughter would head to the office, where Maurina found dentistry to be an acquired taste.
“She came to work in my practice at age 10 and she didn’t like it—she didn’t like the blood,” Wilson said. “But at 15 she came to me and said, ‘Mommy, this is what I want to do.’”
Maurina’s education included annual trips to the Jamaican Dental Convention.
“She went with me for 18 years and met all these other doctors who looked like her, which had a big impact on her too,” Wilson said. “We’d be at breakfast and she’d be there listening to all the adults and learning about life in a very special way.”
“I’m proud I was able to do this myself and then pass it down to my daughter. I’m sure she’ll pass it to someone else.”
“We complement each other,” Wilson continued. “I have friends who say, ‘I wish I had a relationship like you do.’ You just bond when your mom’s there all the time and you run around with her all the time. It’s special.” Wilson’s own mother also worked in the practice as the receptionist, extending the deep bond to include three generations.
Though neither of Wilson’s parents went to college, they were both highly supportive of her education, which began at Howard University in Washington, D.C. After one year, however, Wilson left D.C. for her hometown.
“I thought I wanted to go away, but my family was all here,” she said. “I wanted to come home and be with family.” Choosing Ohio State was easy. “It was home.”
When it came time for Maurina go to college, Wilson and her husband, Bill Brooks, didn’t push her to pick Ohio State but they’re glad that’s where she chose. Besides it being close to home, it brought about a significant milestone not just for them but also the college.
“I’m proud I was able to do this myself and then pass it down to my daughter,” she said. “I’m sure she’ll pass it to someone else.”
A Long Tradition
For another Buckeye legacy family, the Hablitzels, the Buckeye dental tradition could reach the third generation, with a granddaughter of Darrell Hablitzel ’44 DDS currently a pre-dental student at Ohio State. In addition to the elder Hablitzel, now 96, Ohio State dental grads in the family include sons Mark ’71 DDS, Matthew ’73 DDS, and Michael ’78 DDS; daughter Martha ’74 dental hygiene; Mark’s wife, Tina ’71 dental hygiene; son-in-law, Todd Ferguson ’02 DDS; and Matthew’s wife, Shirley ’72 dental hygiene. While not a dental alumna, Darrell’s wife, Clara Lou, earned her master’s in business at Ohio State, too.
Like Wilson, the Hablitzels made dental practice a family affair, with Mark and Michael joining their father’s practice in downtown Port Clinton, Ohio, after they graduated from dental school and served in the military as their father had.
The four Hablitzel kids grew up with the practice in their backyard—literally, with the office on one corner of the block and the family’s home on another. “Because of the location we grew up as much there at the office as we did at the house,” said Mark.
“It was our job every day or two to take any paper trash from the office and haul it down to the alley with our wagon,” he recalled. “My Aunt Marguerite was a receptionist, and we’d sneak around and sit on the floor and watch my dad work. There was a little closet with a little treasure chest full of toys for patients, and we would always check to see if there were any new toys.”
“I don’t think we really thought there was any other school other than Ohio State. We just had so much love for Columbus and the school. There really wasn’t any other place.”
In addition to dentistry, Ohio State has been like another member of the Hablitzel family, with every home football game weekend a sort of homecoming for Clara Lou and Darrell, whose older brother had been in the Marching Band. Darrell had also been a roommate and classmate to Les Horvath ’45 DDS the year Horvath won the Heisman Trophy.
“One of my mom’s graduate classes was with Woody Hayes, and when she and dad would go to games during the Woody Hayes era, they’d have lunch on Sunday at the golf course, where Woody would take the team after their morning review of the game the day before. Woody would see my mom and dad and know my mom, and that was fun.”
When it was time to think college, it was an easy choice for the Hablitzel children.
“I don’t think we really thought there was any other school other than Ohio State,” Mark said. “We just had so much love for Columbus and the school. There really wasn’t any other place.”
For families like the Wilsons and the Hablitzels, college get-togethers for legacy families are celebrations of a special bond—a way to stay connected to home.
To receive information on events for legacy families, contact Ted Backus, Senior Director of Development, at 614-292-307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.