Dr. Michael L. DiPaula, a Navy veteran and retired dentist who practiced in Parkville for decades, died of cancer Sept. 25 at his home in Baldwin. He was 72.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Walbrook, he was the son of Leonard George DiPaula Jr., a Glenn L. Martin Co. worker and insurance agent, and Helen Romaine Mummert. The family lived above his grandfather's business, DiPaula's Confectionery and Soda Shop on Reisterstown Road, during his childhood.
He attended St. Cecilia and Our Lady of Lourdes schools and was a 1963 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School, where played football.
His daughter, Lisa DiPaula, who lives in San Francisco, recalled that her father was fascinated by dentistry while still in his teens.
"In 1959, while he was on a dental appointment before he entered high school, he went to see Dr. Bill Martin at the Medical Arts Building," she said. "He was fascinated with tools in his office, and came home and told his mom he wanted to be a dentist."
After high school, he gained early acceptance for a pre-dental program at the University of Maryland, College Park. He earned a bachelor's degree at Maryland after three years' study and entered the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, from which he earned a degree in 1970.
Family members said he paid his tuition by working at A&P grocery stores. He also played the saxophone in two popular Baltimore bands, the Marquis and the Chelseas. He appeared on the WDCA-TV television show, "Kerby Scott's WingDing," and played at dances at the Ellicott City Armory, the Johns Hopkins University, the Ocean City Pier, the Manchester Fire Hall and Dixie Ballroom at Gwynn Oak Park, among other venues.
Dr. DiPaula enlisted in the Navy in 1970 and was assigned to Camp Pendleton in California. He received additional training in the use of anesthesia at Newport Naval Hospital. A lieutenant, he was stationed at a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion on an Indian Ocean atoll, Diego Garcia, where he was an officer in charge of a diving team that did underwater construction. He also headed the base's dental department and was its medical anesthetist.
In 1972, he left active military service and then served in the Naval Reserves for a decade.
In 1974, while vacationing in Ocean City, he met his future wife, Nancy Fritz, while on a blind date. They married in 1976.
He joined a family dental practice at 8509 Harford Road in Parkville as an associate of Dr. Jim Liszewski in 1972. He later took over the practice and specialized in cosmetic and minimally invasive dentistry.
Dr. DiPaula was a lecturer and writer on alternate medicine. He also taught on the dean's faculty at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. He retired from his profession earlier this year.
"He was a guy who lived life to the fullest," said Dr. Peter Lucas, a fellow dentist who lives in Towson. "He took life and conquered it."
Dr. DiPaula worked Mondays through Thursdays and spent Fridays and the weekend working on his farm.
He lived on Sugar Hill Farm in Fallston in the 1970s. In 1981, he purchased Fox Folly Farm in Baldwin, where he raised, bred and boarded horses. He designed his own home and a barn. He prided himself that he never took a riding lesson and went on to ride on trails throughout the country.
He was a scuba diver and deer and goose hunter. He enjoyed fishing, crabbing and powerboating out of Rumsey Island in Harford County.
He was also a motorcycle and sports car enthusiast. He retained his love of music and played the saxophone, clarinet, guitar, banjo, drums and piano at his home and in informal sessions with friends.
"He was a man who believed hard work and determination made anything possible," his daughter said
He belonged to numerous professional associations, including the Maryland State Dental Association and the Baltimore County Dental Association.
A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.
In addition to his daughter and his wife of 41 years, who was his office assistant, survivors include a son, Anthony M. DiPaula of Brooklyn. N.Y.; and two sisters, Concetta Barth of Centreville and Karen DiPaula of Melbourne, Fla.