Dr. Howard Louis "Jim" Levy, who maintained a family dental practice in Deale for two decades, died Aug. 4 of spinocerebellar ataxia, a rare neurological degenerative disorder, at Gilchrist Hospice Care.
The Pinehurst resident was 60.
The son of a pharmacist and an artist, he was born and raised in Annapolis, where he graduated from Annapolis High School in 1969.
Dr. Levy never used his given name but rather the nickname "Jim" that was bestowed on him by an older brother at his birth.
"In high school, he worked in his father's store delivering prescriptions to nursing homes all over the county and helping his artist mother build frames and canvases for her artwork," said his wife of 31 years, Robin Prothro, a registered nurse who is now executive director of Komen Maryland, the Maryland affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Care Foundation.
Dr. Levy was a 1975 graduate of Syracuse University and earned his dental degree from the University of Maryland Dental School in 1979. There he met his future wife, who was studying nursing at the University of Maryland.
The couple married in 1980.
Dr. Levy began his career in 1979 as an associate dentist at Diamond Dental in Canton and later in downtown Baltimore before he established a family dental practice in 1985 on Deale Road in Deale.
He was a longtime resident of Midhurst Road in Pinehurst, where he and his family lived and where he completed most of the renovations on his 100-year-old home.
"He loved going to his practice every day and drove back and forth to Deale," said Ms. Prothro.
"He ran his practice like his father ran his corner pharmacy, and it was a hub for community activity especially on summer evenings when bluegrass and other musicians would hang out in the parking lot practicing their play lists," she said.
Dr. Levy known for his expert dental care and was also respected for his philanthropic support of local events in Deale.
Mary Averill worked with Dr. Levy as his dental assistant for 18 years.
"He was so beloved in the community that when they found out he was going to retire, they held a huge going-away party for him. More than 300 people showed up," said Ms. Averill. "The Elks donated the land, and three bands played for free."
She said that Dr. Levy provided an atmosphere of calm in his office.
"Most people don't like going to the dentist, but they all loved Jimmy, and he loved his job. He'd find out what a person was interested in and focus on that," she said. "He had so many friends that would call up and say, 'I'm Jimmy's best friend' when asking for an appointment. He had a lot of 'best friends,' I can tell you."
Ms. Averill said that Dr. Levy liked the notion that "when someone came in with a problem, he could fix it. He loved that."
"He could put people at ease. He was never superior to anyone. Everyone was on a first-name basis, including Jimmy," she said.
"He could make people laugh — even those who were having root canals — he'd get them laughing hysterically. He'd tell them, 'You can tell your friends that you were laughing during your root canal, and they won't believe it,'" said Ms. Averill.
Dr. Levy was forced to retire and sell his practice in 2005 after being diagnosed with the disorder that eventually claimed his life.
"He learned how to ice skate with his daughter, build model rockets with his son and ballroom dance with his wife," said Ms. Prothro. "He taught his children how to ski, build elaborate sand castles at the beach, sing crazy songs, hike in the mountains."
Dr. Levy was an amateur woodworker and enjoyed making furniture, beautiful boxes, jewelry and "wonderful utilitarian household objects," his wife said.
Services for Dr. Levy are private.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Levy is survived by a son, Carter Levy of Baltimore; a daughter, Emily Levy of Washington; his brother, Alan Levy of Annapolis; and many nieces and nephews.