Linda DeVore, 61, led dental school department


Linda DeVore, who was chairwoman of the University of Maryland Dental School's Department of Dental Hygiene, died of pancreatic cancer Friday at her Ellicott City home. She was 61.

A teacher for more than a quarter-century, she was the first dental hygienist to be elected president of the Washington-based American Dental Education Association.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Linda Meisel earned a certificate in dental hygiene at Ohio State University in Columbus. In 1976, she earned a bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene at the UM Dental School. She also had a master's degree in instructional systems development from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she also earned an advanced certificate in health and public policy.

Ms. DeVore began teaching in her department in 1976 and stepped down in October.

"She kept her program running at a high level of quality and efficiency. She was an important part of the school's administration," said Dr. Richard R. Ranney, the dental school's former dean. "She was a steady, competent performer, no matter what she took on. She was friendly, but she would confront issues in an open and honest way. I relied heavily upon her for advice."

She was the American Dental Education Association's 71st president, serving from 1994 to 1995.

"She broke ranks with history and was the first dental hygienist to be president of a group that traditionally was led by male dentists," said Jacquelyn L. Fried, associate professor at the dental school and a friend for 25 years. "She was deliberate, resolute, empathic. She elevated people to a higher plane. She exacted the best from people. She had a calm about her that made everything OK. She could analyze a problem in a heartbeat and ferret out the essence of the issue."

"She was easy to be with, a relaxed person," said JoAnn G. Meisel, her sister-in-law and friend for 33 years. "She was an excellent mentor to her many students who thought they could freely talk to her. She opened vistas to them and opened doors within the profession."

Ms. DeVore was the recipient of many honors, including the Distinguished Dental Hygiene Alumna Award from the University of Maryland Dental School, the American Dental Hygienists' Association's Warner Lambert Award for excellence and the Maryland Dental Hygienists' Association's Symbol of Excellence Award. Her students chose her as the 1986 and 1990 teacher of the year.

At her death, Ms. Devore headed a grant program funded through the Howard County Health Department that brought dental hygiene, cavity prevention and oral health education to needy children.

In 1990, she married Dr. Duane DeVore, an oral surgeon who died in 1998.

Services will be held at 7 p.m. today at the Sheraton-Columbia Inn Hotel, 10207 Wincopin Circle, Columbia.

Survivors include a son, Marc Rubinstein of Memphis, Tenn.; a daughter, Marva Bailer of Ellicott City; her mother, Anne Strauber of Sunrise, Fla.; a brother, Dr. Jerome Meisel of Atlanta; a stepdaughter, Kate DeVore of Chicago; and three grandchildren. A previous marriage ended in divorce.

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