Jack Wimmer, a highly respected and historically important innovator and contributor to the dental profession, died on May 24, 2017. Jack was born on August 12, 1923 in Wieliczka, Poland, a salt mining town near Krakow.
He became involved in dentistry at the age of 14, when he was apprenticed to a dentist. The apprenticeship flourished until Germany invaded Poland and occupied Wieliczka in 1942.
On August 27, 1942, Jack was separated permanently from his family and forced to work in several brutal German hard labor camps. His parents and siblings, his aunts and uncles, and all of his cousins were killed in the Belzec death camp. On Yom Kippur in the Fall of 1942, the most important holiday of the Jewish year, while working in the Stalowa Wola camp in Rozwadow he witnessed the camp commander shoot the town rabbi, an event that haunted Jack for many years. Years later the camp commander was found in Argentina and returned to Germany for trial in May 1990 for the murder of hundreds of innocent Jews, including the rabbi. In 1991 Jack was asked to testify against the commander and his difficult, but courageous, testimony was instrumental in obtaining a life sentence for the murderer.
Jack endured constant deprivations, hardships, and brutal suffering in German concentration camps, but somehow managed to survive the war. On May 8, 1945, Jack was liberated by the Russians from the Langenbielau-Reichenbach labor camp near the German border.
A year after the liberation Jack met and married Sally. They lived in Munich, Germany, where they started to rebuild their lives. Jack completed his dental education in Wurzburg and began practicing dentistry in Munich. He quickly developed an excellent reputation as a talented and caring dentist.
Jack, Sally, and their three-year old daughter Betty emigrated to the United States In 1951 and settled in the Ridgewood section of Brooklyn. Jack’s son Howard was born in 1953. Jack worked for a number of dental laboratories and quickly gained a reputation as an extremely talented dental laboratory technician.
In 1957 Jack opened his own dental laboratory, Park Dental Studios, initially located at 30 Central Park South in Manhattan. Park Dental Studios became one of the most widely known and respected dental laboratories in the country, with Jack directing a skilled, dedicated, and loyal staff of over 60 people. Jack possessed vast and practical knowledge of clinical dentistry and dental laboratory technology, and was sought out regularly by dentists and dental laboratory technicians throughout the world for his expertise and advice concerning complex dental restorations.
In the late 1950s Jack developed a great interest in dental implantology. He worked closely with Dr. Leonard I. Linkow, the “father of dental implantology,” pioneering the introduction of dental implants, along with Drs. Charles Babbush, Robert Baier, Burton Balkin, Eric Baush, Raphael Chercheve, Norman Cranin, Gustav Dahl, Aaron Gershkoff, Norman Goldberg, Robert James, Kenneth Judy, Jack Lemons, Isaiah Lew, Carl Misch, Giordano Muratori, Sheldon Winkler, and Professor Yanagisawa.
Jack helped develop and lectured throughout the world on subperiosteal implants. He authored chapters for implant textbooks and wrote articles on implants and dental laboratory technology for dental periodicals. Jack founded Park Dental Research Corporation, which introduced several innovative products, including custom endosteal blade implants, the Startanius two-stage blade implant, and the Star-Lock two-stage screw implant. Jack introduced to the profession the use of radiofrequency glow discharge for sterilizing and cleaning the surface of dental implants.
Jack was an honorary member of the American Academy of Implant Prosthodontics and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. He was on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry Research Foundation and the Dental Implant Manufacturers Association. He also served as chairperson of the committee for the establishment of the Leonard I. Linkow Professorship in Implant Dentistry at New York University College of Dentistry.
In 2001 Jack was honored as the recipient of the Aaron Gershkoff Memorial Award from the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. This lifetime achievement award recognized Jack’s many years of involvement with and contributions to implant dentistry.
At the award ceremony, Dr. Leonard I. Linkow said, “Jack has a daily sense of dedication. Each day he commits to service and excellence in all areas of his life. Everyone who has known him can be proud of this moment, of this honor.”
Jack’s reputation, success, and influence extended beyond the world of dentistry. He was a member of the American Society of Yad Vashem and a founding member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. He devoted resources, time, and energy to fundraising campaigns for charitable organizations and was honored by many of them. However, what Jack enjoyed most and was most proud of, was his family.
On a personal note, in May of 1995 I accompanied my father, Dr. Sheldon Winkler, to Berlin, Germany, where he was invited to lecture on implant dentistry. Jack Wimmer attended the meeting, as Park Dental Research Corporation was one of the exhibitors. Jack insisted on being our food guide during the 3-day meeting and we broke bread with him several times, including at the New Synagogue. When my father traveled to the east coast from Arizona, he always looked forward to visiting and having lunch with Jack and Sally in the New York office of Park Dental Research Corporation.
Jack Wimmer was a Holocaust survivor whose postwar life was one of dedication, philanthropy, success, service, respect, love, and honor. He will be missed by all who knew him.
Lori Kesselman, JD
Special thanks to Dr. Howard Wimmer, Jack’s son, who supplied material for this memorial.
IN MEMORIAM DR. JACK WIMMER
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