Non of us ever reaches any level of expertise without guidance for others. Looking back I owe a great debt of thanks to my mentors some of who are mentioned below.
In 1974 I entered the international dental program (Special Students) at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. They had a two year doctorate training for foreign trained dentists which was quite remarkable at the time. Not only did the teach the complete dental training but they included Gnathology with guest speakers like Charles Stuart and Peter K. Thomas.
I want to remember one of my teachers today, his name was Peter K. Thomas DDS, an internationally renowned teacher and lecturer of restorative dentistry. In 1974 and ’75 at the USC (now the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry) I attended courses from him. He was an inspirational mentor and encouraged nothing but the best, the harder right rather than the easier wrong. Once I graduated he invited me to join him at the Laguna Beach Study Club where he pounded in the refinements of Gnathological reconstruction, and the art of cutting fine preparations and waxing up ideal gold onlays. PKT took a shine to me and I certainly loved him. He always referred to himself as Papa Thomas and the picture below captured the affection between us.
It was Dr. Thomas who got me into the International Academy of Gnathology which had some really elegant meetings. We had a dinner for Dr. Thomas in West Los Angeles which was arranged by the renowned master dental technician and laboratory owner Renzo Casellini (Swiss Quality Dental Ceramics and Dental Implant Studio) The image below was taken at that dinner and shows Peter in a private moment his hand on my hand. I was strongly encouraged to strive for the best by Peter. He always quoted Michael Angelo "Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle"
Professor Bernard Levin, was one of the finest “wet finger” dentist I ever saw operate. He had a natural gift for getting the very best impressions for his patients. He helped to develop and improve techniques for dentures and other dental prosthetics, published three books, including the definitive text on complete denture impression, four teaching manuals, and more than 50 articles.
I met Bernie at Guy’s Hospital where he came to guest lecture and teach while on a sabbatical from USC. I was his dresser preparing the clinic for him when he was demonstrating denture design. Professor Levin became my mentor at the University of Southern California, and coached me on the research papers I wrote on the Thompson Dowel and the alignment of precision attachments. He sponsored me into the Pacific Coast Society for Prosthodontics.
Professor Harold W. Preiskel graduated from Guy’s Hospital in 1961 and won a scholarship to study prosthodontics under Carl Boucher, in Columbus, Ohio. He has been a Consultant in Prosthetic Dentistry at Guy’s, Kings and St. Thomas’ Hospital for thirty years where he founded the dental implant programme. He is one of the world’s foremost Prosthodontists and his specialist practice has gained and international reputation in tandem to his scientific career. Mr Preiskel was a consultant at Guy's when I was engaged as a House Officer in 1973 during the time when Professor Levin was visiting the dental school on sabbatical. He was an inspirational clinician and teacher who I admire, and wrote the famous treatise "Precision Attachments In Dentistry". It was Mr. Preiskel who said "Go to America Neil, go to America!"
Dame Flora MacLeod was the Chief of the Clan MacLeod from 1935 - 1976. In the last five years of her life she was an inspirational mentor to me, twice encouraging me to study in the United States, and providing a stipend from the purse of Dunvegan. In a series of eighteen letters it can be seen how she not only supported my studies, but also pursued her own hope that I would continue her legacy in the clan. The story is told in a book "Letters From A Scottish Chief".
Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod