TAMPA — It was impressive to see Dr. David Dolgin at work.
His son remembers. He'd sit in the waiting room while people gushed about his father — his gentle ways, his pain-free touch, the playful prodding he employed to encourage their good dental habits.
At night, Dr. Dolgin would come home and cook dinner for his family. Later, he'd quietly pore over his patients' dental charts at the table. He was always accessible — he even left his home phone number on his office answering machine.
"I remember on weekends him getting phone calls from patients who he had done surgery on. He would get on the phone with them," said his son, Gary Dolgin. "He was very devoted to always doing good work,"
Dr. Dolgin was born in Jackson Heights, N.Y., where his parents owned a candy shop and worked from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. The family lived in back of the store. Dr. Dolgin was an Eagle Scout who picked berries where LaGuardia Airport stands today.
He fell in love with dentistry after serving as an Army dental technician in Korea. His wife, Ann, supported him through his first grueling years of dental school. She adored his voice, his tall good looks, his sensitive soul.
"I think we had a love for each other in which we felt that we could conquer the world and do anything," she said.
The couple eventually moved to Florida and had three children. Dr. Dolgin expanded his dental knowledge to become a periodontist. He practiced in Tampa for more than 40 years.
He passed his love of tennis and cooking to his children. But the most important thing, he said, was education.
"He put three children through college," said Gary Dolgin. "There was a time when three of us were all at private universities at one time. It certainly was a sacrifice."
He closed his practice in 2000, but still worked part time as a periodontist, a consultant at James A. Haley Veteran's Hospital and a dental evaluator for Metropolitan Life.
"He was a terrific professional," said Mrs. Dolgin. "He treated his patients like members of the family and they didn't want him to retire. That's why he continued working and believed in spending a lot of time with his patients."
He traveled the world with his wife, exploring new cultures and toting a Flat Stanley around for pictures their grandson could show off at school. This month, they took a long trip through Vietnam and Cambodia, then finally, Thailand.
But while in Bangkok, Dr. Dolgin suffered a pulmonary embolism. He died overseas Tuesday at age 77. Back home, he still had patients scheduled for Monday.
Reach Stephanie Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8857.