A Tribute To One o f Dentistry's Immortals

Waldon I. Ferrier was horn in Vader, Washington, February 7, 1880. His parents were the descendants of French Huguenots who, in order to escape religious persecution, first moved to Scotland and then to America, settling in the State of Missouri. It was there his parents were married, soon after this immigrating to the State of Washington, a new, comparatively unsettled, pioneer country. His father, a hard-working man, divided his time between fanning and working in the lumber industry.

The early years of this young man's life were spent in a most fortunate environment where he no doubt learned that success in life must be achieved by the individual through his own initiative and effort. He graduated from high school and in 1905 matriculated at the North Pacific College of Dentistry. Upon graduation in 1908 he received the degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine.

He then moved to Burlington, Washington, a very small town about 80 miles from Seattle.

The countryside was only recently cleared and stumps were found in all the roadways and streets. When he arrived lie had only $7.00 and his meager student equipment. He set up an office in a small hotel room, and as he prospered moved to more adequate and better equipped quarters. He drew patients from a wide area, many of them being residents of Seattle. In 1919 he moved to Seattle.

This young man had a burning desire to improve himself and to his a credit to his profession. About 1915 he came under the influence of the late F. K. Wiedelstaedt. Doctor Wiedelstaedt lectured before the Washington State Society and also lectured and demonstrated before the Seattle Dental Study Club. This contact was most fortunate and represented the turning point of Doctor Ferrier's life.

He became greatly impressed with the philosophy and techniques of Dr. G. V. Black, am largely through his own efforts and diligence he became an expert in operative dentistry In the meantime he had joined the Seattle Dental Study Club in which he maintained membership through the remainder of his life. While thoroughly converted to the philosophy of Doctor Black, yet he came to believe that Dr. Black was too radical in applying his principles, that he unnecessarily destroyed a great deal of tooth structure. Doctor Ferrier spent much time in the search for a more conservative application of the principles of Doctor Black. In this he was highly successful.

These modifications in cavity preparation demanded the development of smaller instruments. He met this challenge and developed an instruntentarium which was compatible with his new approach to the problems of operative dentistry. He was thoroughly, dedicated to the cause of aesthetic. dentistry. His cavity outlines, particularly those of Class V and Class III cavities, were such that they blended harmoniously with the configuration of the tooth in which they were placed and by so doing had much greater aesthetic value. He became an expert in the use of dental porcelain, both in jacket crowns and inlay restorations. His efforts along this line were seldom equalled and certainly not excelled by anyone. He also developed separators which were simple, rugged, and provided ample space for operating while in position. He studied thoroughly the use and application of the rubber dam, developing new technic and also better methods of using clamps, several new designs of which be perfected

By this time his work was recognized in his own locality where he became a leader. As time went on he continued his study club work, helping personally to organize many more clubs in Seattle; Portland. Oregon: and in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. He personally supervised the training of approximately 200 operators during this time. Most of those who came under his influence adopted his idealism, dedication and devotion. His approach to the problems of operative dentistry now received national and international recognition. He wrote many papers and lectured on many occasions. Everywhere he went he was recognized and was treated with the greatest respect.

I became acquainted with Doctor Ferrier in 1922 and almost immediately we established a friendship which endured throughout the years. I have traveled extensively throughout the United States and lectured before students of many dental schools and to dental societies. I feel that I am in a good position to evaluate the work of Doctor Ferrier. His impact on the dental profession has been enormous and in my opinion no one has done more to advance the cause of good dentistry.

Doctor Ferrier was a good American and was completely dedicated to the philosophies set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. I have heard him say many times that Freedom is the greatest blessing of all.  Its maintenance requires the constant diligence of many dedicated peoples.

Owing to failing health Doctor Ferrier retired from practice in 1950. From then on he divided his time between British Columbia, Seattle, Washington and Southern California. He usually spent several months every summer in what he called his "fishing camp" where hotel facilities were available and lakes and streams abounded with trout. The colder months of the year he spent in Southern California, usually in the Imperial Valley with occasional trips into Mexico.

About three years ago I conceived the idea of haying a bronze portrait in the round made of Doctor Ferrier. I communicated with the Associated Study Clubs, and immediately they lent their enthusiastic approval to the idea. The portrait was executed by Stephen Zakian, one of Los Angeles' most famous sculptors. Doctor Ferrier sat personally many times during the execution of this portrait. In May 1964 the Associated Study Clubs formally presented this bronze portrait to the School of Dentistry, University of Washington. It is now located in the operative department where it will be a constant inspiration to the teachers and student of this most excellent institution. I feel this tribute was amply merited by Doctor Ferrier and no doubt constitutes the cap sheaf of a long, dedicated, and successful life.

Doctor Ferrier's health progressively failed through the years. He died on November 11, 1965.

George M. Hollenback
Encino, California
February, 1966


Dr. Walden I. Ferrier


Provided by Dr. Bruce Smith

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