It’s been years since Dick Sands lived in Westport. But news of his death on Friday — one week shy of his 85th birthday — reminds thousands of teenagers from the 1960s and ’70s of the impact he had on our lives.
Dick was not a teacher, a sports coach or a clergyman. He was an orthodontist.
More than that, he was an orthodontist back when the tools of the trade were heavy metal contraptions, ugly rubber bands, and similar devices that seemed to come from the days of Torquemada.
He was, for quite a while, the orthodontist in town. Every kid needing braces went to him; every kid had similar stories of pliers and wires, aching gums and embarrassingly closed mouths.
Looking back, of course, we realize that the orthodontics Dick practiced were the best of its time. Our parents wanted us to have straight teeth and broad smiles; an added benefit would be fewer dental problems as we got older.
Dick retired a while ago, and with his wife — former teacher Joan Sands — moved to Florida. He left behind a thriving orthodontics practice — and thousands of men and women, now in late middle age, with pretty nice chops.
Here is his complete obituary:
Richard H. Sands, orthodontist and co-founder of renowned New-Conn Orthodontist Study group, died on February 10, at his home in Sarasota, Florida. He was 84.
Dr. Sands graduated from Poly Prep High School in Brooklyn, Amherst College, and Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery. He served in the Navy as a nurse and physician’s assistant, caring for the sick and wounded at the end of and shortly after World War II. A lover of jazz and classical music, Dr. Sands was an accomplished clarinetist and saxophonist, and played in the Navy Swing Dance band.
He was devoted to his profession, publishing many papers on new treatments, organizing regional and national conventions, and serving as an officer of numerous professional committees and societies.
His military service gave him a love of travel, and he and his family traveled extensively throughout the world both before and after his retirement.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Joan; his daughter Caren; his two sons, Gordon and Jeffrey, and seven grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Monday, February 13, at 11 a.m. at Temple Sinai of Sarasota. In lieu of flowers, donations in Dr. Sands’ memory may be made to the Neuro Challenge Foundation: www.neurochallenge.org/neu/donations