The Nassau County Dental Society - Over 75 Years of Public and Professional Service
It all began on April 1, 1948, when Governor Thomas E. Dewey signed legislation establishing the new Tenth Judicial District. Inasmuch as the dental society districts followed New York’s judicial districts, the door was opened for the “branch” societies of the Second District to establish their own components; Queens, Central Queens, Nassau and Suffolk thus was established as a district or component society of the Dental Society of the State of New York known as the Tenth District Dental Society (TDDS). In 1962, Queens formed the Eleventh District Dental Society followed in 1981 by the Suffolk branch’s formation of the Suffolk County Dental Society. That same year, the use of the name “Tenth District Dental Society” was discontinued.
The preliminary meeting of the fledgling Tenth District Dental Society took place on April 20, 1948 at the old Garden City Hotel with approximately 300 dentists in attendance who adopted temporary bylaws and elected an interim slate of officers. The association’s first official meeting took place in January 1949 and Dr. Samuel G. Hoffman of Hempstead became its first president. The Society’s first headquarters were housed in the Secretary’s office in Jamaica, New York. The Society’s first Secretary, Dr. Herbert L. Taub, subsequently became the Tenth District Dental Society’s first Executive Director, a post he held until his retirement.
Membership meetings and educational programs were held at the Queens County Medical Society building, Triboro Hospital, Meadowbrook Hospital and in Dr. Taub’s office, from which TDDS moved to rented space in the same building. Since there were no paid employees in the very early days, all administrative and clerical duties were performed by the officers and committee chairs. In 1949, rented space was taken on the second floor of Browne’s Business School in Jamaica. This location provided enough room for continuing education courses and administration. A secretary was hired.
Having outgrown Browne’s quarters, the Society relocated to larger offices above the movie theater in Lynbrook in 1951. Operatories were equipped for hands-on continuing education courses, which were very popular because tuition for eligible members was covered under the GI Bill.
In 1954, as membership grew and demand for continuing education increased, the Society, relocated to offices at 165 N. Village Avenue in Rockville Centre. These quarters were altered from time to time as administrative requirements expanded. For the next 27 years, the dentists of Nassau and Suffolk counties made “165” their professional home – the Suffolk contingent having to travel long distances to attend meetings and courses.
The administrative and operational workload of the TDDS so overburdened its officers, volunteers and secretarial staff that it became necessary in 1969 to engage an executive director in the person of Dr. Herbert Taub. His engaging persona, his elemental knowledge of organized dentistry, his penchant for long hours and hard work proved invaluable. For 21 years, he ran the Society. After Suffolk County split off in 1981, Dr. Taub stayed on at Nassau County Dental Society. Every incoming president was fearful that Dr. Taub might retire before he took office. Finally, after more than two decades, he retired after a period during which he mentored his successor, Dr. William F. Boyd. Having practiced oral surgery for many years, Dr. Boyd was well versed in the complexities of private practice - this together with his dexterity in dental politics and administration kept the Society on an even keel for eight years. It was during this transition period, on February 14, 1990, that the Society closed on the condominium office space it currently occupies in Garden City, finally becoming an owner as opposed to a renter. Other than minor decorating updates, the space remained unchanged for the next 32 years. Then in 2022 the space was gutted and remodeled in order to increase our capacity for CE courses and improve the audio-visual system. In addition a dedicated peer review exam room was created.
Gabriele K. Libbey succeeded Dr. Boyd in March 1998. The first non-dentist to fill the executive director’s position in Nassau County, she came to the position with an extensive background in association management. She served as the executive director of the Suffolk County Bar Association for more than a dozen years and also was the chief administrative officer of the Village of Atlantic Beach following five years as an elected Trustee in the Village of Great Neck Estates. Some of her significant accomplishments include obtaining real property tax exemption status from Nassau County for the NCDS’s condo headquarters, retiring the condo mortgage, computerizing headquarters, initiating the creation of the NCDS’s Internet presence and maintaining our website all the while providing guidance and support for our volunteers and officers. After more than a decade as our Executive Director Gaby retired in 2009. In recognition of her contributions to the Society, she was made an honorary member and received the Herbert L. Taub Distinguished Service Award. The only non-dentist to have ever received the award.
Two more non-dentists filled the Executive Director position over the next ten years with mixed results until we decided to go back to our roots. Currently, we again have a dentist as our Executive Director, Eugene G. Porcelli, DDS. A general dentist in Garden City for almost 40 years, he was President of NCDS in 2011 and has held numerous committee and council positions at NCDS as well as at the NYSDA and ADA levels of the tripartite.
Aside from its strong involvement in the legislative arena, insurance protection for its members, adjudication of patient complaints through peer review, the encouragement of high ethical standards, public and professional relations, endorsement of fluoridation, the Society has from its earliest days vigorously promoted continuing education in the interest of better patient care.
In 1963, the Nassau-Suffolk Academy of Dentistry was chartered by the New York State Department of Education. This additional educational arm provided certain tax advantages. As it is now known, the Nassau Academy of Dentistry was resuscitated in 2007 and will in the decades that lie ahead fulfill its mandate. The Society and Academy are proud of the fact that most of its continuing education courses continue to be offered as a member benefit, tuition free.
In any history of a professional organization, the dedication and the hard work of hundreds of officers, committee chairs and members, and editors who, along with a committed staff, served us so faithfully for seven and a half decades must not be glossed over or forgotten. One should not single out specific individuals for special mention. Suffice it to say that for them “virtue was its own reward.” These officers, these editors, these committee members who attended innumerable meetings, who did the often irksome and tedious work of the Society, who made and still make the Society what it is -– a bulwark of strength and an island of stability in a turbulent dental sea -– deserve our accolades and thanks.
As the Nassau County Dental Society approached its 50th Anniversary celebration, the Board of Directors authorized the creation of a new logo to be used on all future official publications of the Society. The new logo, created by graphic artist Andrew Nelson Wiener, is characterized by the Rod of Aesculapius, the symbol of the medical and dental professions, (not to be confused with the Caduceus or Rod of Mercury which is a symbol of trade and commerce). Surrounding the Rod is the Serpent of Aesculapius, the father of medicine. Emanating from the Rod of Aesculapius are 32 leaves and 20 berries signifying the permanent and deciduous dentitions, respectively.
The Rod of Aesculapius is situated within the Greek letter Delta which is symbolic of the dental profession, and is surrounded by the Greek letter Omicron which stands for “odont” or tooth. Contained within the omicron is the Society’s corporate name, Nassau County Dental Society, which is also represented by the initials NCDS, situated beneath the delta. Finally, contained within the delta are the indicia 1948 (the year of the Society’s incorporation) and NY (the state in which the society is incorporated).
For its 70th Anniversary, the Nassau County Dental Society updated its logo to the current more modern version, which also emulated the logo of the New York State Dental Association to convey that we are part of the Tripartite.
On January 9, 2007, the Board of Regents of The University of the State of New York, for and on behalf of the State Education Department, granted an amended charter to the Nassau Academy of Dentistry which had originally been chartered as the Nassau-Suffolk Academy of Dentistry on June 25, 1965. On January 17, 1984, the charter was amended to change the corporate name to the Nassau Academy of Dentistry. Since 2008, many of the educational activities of the Nassau County Dental Society have been conducted under the auspices of the Nassau Academy of Dentistry.
During the 75 years of its existence, the Nassau County Dental Society has witnessed tremendous advances in the management of oral disease, in the technology of practice, radical changes in reimbursement for services, the interjection of government into professional practices and quantum leaps in malpractice litigation. Still, the Society having progressed from more halcyon days to today’s pressured climate continues to fulfill its objectives as stated in its constitution – “to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the interests of members of the profession and the public it serves.”
Note: While this history has been updated in 2022, it is based upon the history written by two of its distinguished past presidents for the Society’s Golden Anniversary which was celebrated in January 1999. While both have passed away, the impact they had on organized dentistry and our association lives on. Dr. Leo Taft served as 1977-78 President of the Dental Society of the State of New York & 1955 President of the Nassau County branch of the Tenth District Dental Society. Dr. William L. O’Connell served as 1982 President of the Nassau County Dental Society and 1976 President of the Nassau County branch of the Tenth District Dental Society. Drs. O’Connell and Taft both received the Nassau County Dental Society’s Herbert L. Taub Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Taft was the 1996 recipient and Dr. O’Connell received the honor in 2002. The information concerning the origins of the symbolism in the dental society’s logo was contributed by NCDS past president Dr. Robert M. Peskin.