17/3/1930 – 02/10/2020.
By Professor J. Fraser McCord
The world of Dentistry is now a poorer world with the death of Professor Alan Grant.
He was born, in Pimpinio, a small town in Central Victoria on 17th March, 1930. He went to Westgarth Central School to Year 8, then University High School. Sometime in his youth, he acquired glasses, and with that, his older brother, Geoff, gave him the nickname ‘the professor.’ On leaving school, Alan attended the University of Melbourne Dental School, graduating BDS in 1952.
He entered general dental practice for a few years and, whilst in practice, gained his MDSc. He joined the staff of Melbourne Dental School in 1961 and thereafter, was awarded his DDSc. from his alma mater. Alan was by this time a Senior Lecturer and he published widely with his colleague Professor Atkinson.
In 1967, Alan became one of the inaugural Fellows of the Australasian College of Dental Surgeons (now the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons), a distinction of which he was justifiably proud.
Alan had many published papers principally in the field of dental materials – indeed his early papers and articles were published while he was still a student.
Alan’s reputation in the fields of Dental Prosthetics and Dental Materials had by this time spread and in 1970, he was invited to the Chair of Prosthetic Dentistry / Honorary Consultant at the Turner Dental School of the University of Manchester (now known as the University Dental Hospital of Manchester).
There, with his friend and colleague Professor George Nixon, a strong Department of Restorative Dentistry was established in addition to a Unit of Dental Materials Science which was to assume an International reputation.
Alan married his devoted wife Anne of 55 years in December 1961. They rejoiced in their family of 3 children – Matthew, Nick and Helen. They sailed en famille from Melbourne to Southampton. It is testimony to the patience and forbearance of Alan and Anne that they coped with the voyage which lasted a full calendar month, 4 September – 4 October 1970 aboard the SS Ocades.
The three children spent some time in the so-called isolation hospital with either measles or chicken pox, which meant that when the family finally docked in Southampton the ship’s MO instructed them not to take the train to Manchester as planned, but to hire a car and drive. When they arrived in their temporary home in Cheadle Hume, they found that the central heating was out of order!
His organisational skills, natural humour and amazing ability to douse potentially contentious issues- when appearing to be blissfully asleep – led to him being nominated Dean of Manchester Dental School 1977-1981 and 1988-1991. He also served as a Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Manchester from 1988-1992.
In addition to research, Alan and George Nixon established a strong link with the University of Air Langga in Indonesia and exchange arrangements instituted- this led to many MSc and PhD students trained in Manchester before returning to their alma mater.
There is no question that Alan attained the pinnacle of his discipline. He co-authored 5 text books and, among his many honours, he received:
- President of the British Society of Prosthetic Dentistry, 1989-1990
- the Triennial Gold Medal Award of the British Society for the Study of Prosthetic Dentistry in 1996 – later became on Honorary Member
- the IADR Distinguished Scientist Award
- the gold medal of the University of Air Langga in 1997.
- FDS RCS (Eng) ad eundem in 1992.
Alan retired in 2003 when he and his wife Anne returned to Queensland and while there amongst other noble interests, served on the Ethics Committee of Griffiths University and was an active member of the Land for Wildlife conservation programme.
He was a perfect gentleman, always considerate and extremely modest. He nurtured long friendships and commanded deep affection and respect.
Alan had in immense influence on my life and I shall miss his wit, warmth and wisdom – Dentistry has indeed lost a leading light.