Dr. Harold Hillenbrand


Dr. Harold Hillenbrand

Chicago, Illinois — 1906-1986

Harold Hillenbrand was born in Chicago on July 19th,1906, and died there on May 31st, 1986. He was one of a family of nine, and his father practiced dentistry in Chicago for over 50 years. He graduated as Doctor of Dental Surgery and Bachelor of Science in 1930, and conducted a private practice in Chicago for 15 years during which time he taught ethics and social relations and started a long series of editorships, which culminated with his appointment as editor of the Journal of the American Dental Association in 1945.

All his professional activities between 1930 and 1945 were the background to his appointment as full-time secretary of the American Dental Association in 1946. This began the real career of this extraordinary man, who, as an editor, administrator, politician , statesman, and dentist, influenced the entire dental world both nationally and internationally.

Nationally, he will always have a place in the history of the dental profession in North America. It was written of him: “Although his greatest impact has naturally been in the field of dentistry, the actions he has taken and the positions he has enunciate in the course of his work for dentistry have made their mark on the overall health affairs of the nation.”

The ADA Headquarter Building exemplifies his foresight and continuing influence. A dedicatory plaque reads: “This auditorium dedicated to Harold Hillenbrand, DDS, Executive Director Emeritus, whose foresight , creative administration and aesthetic sensibility made the Headquarter building a reality. August 14th 1997.”

His papers , articles, and speeches cover every aspect of dental services both nationally and internationally. He was elected Executive Director Emeritus after his retirement in 1970 and continued to deal with the national and international aspects of the organization, administration and delivery of world dental health services. Internationally, he recognized that the ADA should have an international platform, and from 1947 until 1985, when for the last time he attended an Annual World Dental Congress of the Federation Dentaire Internationale In Belgrade as Vice-President of Honor, he played a prominent role in the international development of dentistry.

He served the FDI as vice-president for 1952, president-elect 1969, and president 1971-73. It was said of his international activities: “If any man should be singled out for his efforts since 1947, it is Harold Hillenbrand, who has played an active part in shaping the course of the FDI and through it the establishment of dentistry as an international health profession.” He will always be remembered for his administrative and financial genius and one of the chief architects of the Federation’s growth, stability and influence. He also took a great interest in the Oral Health Section of the World Health Organization.

To receive honors is always encouraging and gratifying, Harold took a natural pleasure in their receipt. They include honorary degrees from universities and colleges all over the world, decorations from many countries, honorary memberships of 22 national dental societies including the BDA, and Fellowship in Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

H.H., as he was known by the ADA staff, had the qualities of a great man, a fund of knowledge, good judgment, and the courage to put his decisions into effect, always with the prevailing thought that his profession must contribute to the totality of human health and happiness. His life personifies professionalism, eloquence, integrity, knowledge, leadership, and creative administration. The Academy is privileged and honored to induct Dr. Harold Hillenbrand into the PFA International Hall of Fame of Dentistry.