100 YEARS OF FAMILY HISTORY IN ORTHODONTICS
In short, our family’s orthodontic journey began with George and Margaret McKenna. They had a son, Earnest McKenna, who went to dental school in the early 1900’s. His older brother, Paul, initially chose another career path. However, when that didn’t work out, his mother put a full year’s tuition of $100, on the desk of the dean of the school in December and bet the dean that the older son, Paul, would catch up with the other students by year’s end. If he did not, then he was out.
Needless to say, Paul excelled and graduated with the class of 1917. Following dental school, he attended the Dewey School of Orthodontics in New York City and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts. There he bought the practice of Dr. A. LeRoy Johnson who wanted to return to academia at Harvard. Earnest practiced in Boston in the White building adjacent to the Boston Commons. According to family lore, a third brother, George left MIT and also practiced orthodontics in Providence.
Earnest had a son William who also became an orthodontist and successfully practiced with his father in Boston. “Billy” as he was known, was one of the founding fathers of what has become the Yankee Dental Meeting in Boston. He was heavily involved with both dental and orthodontic societies and was the First District Trustee to the ADA.
Paul, in Springfield, had a family that also yielded orthodontists. He and his wife Catherine had five children, of which, Paul Jr., David and John became orthodontists. All of them practiced in Springfield for some time. However, David and John relocated to West Hartford, Connecticut in the early 1960’s. The three brothers were very committed to dental associations and held various leadership positions in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as with NESO.
Paul Jr. also had five children, two of which became orthodontists. Paul III practices in Connecticut having taken over David and John’s practice, and Stephen took over his father’s practice in Massachusetts. In this generation, one of Paul Jr’s brothers, George, had a son who also became an orthodontist, Gregory McKenna. Greg now practices in the Danbury area. Paul involved himself with NESO and AAO appointments. Stephen has participated at various levels in the Massachusetts Dental Society and the annual Yankee Dental Meeting. Greg is a member of the NEWCONN study club, a prestigious continuing education group that holds biannual meetings of national importance.
In all, there were a total of 10 orthodontists from the McKenna family, in addition to eight other family members, either cousins or by marriage, who were either dentists (5) or orthodontists (3). A total of eighteen dentists or orthodontists from the family of George and Margaret McKenna of Boston, Massachusetts continue to build a legacy in the profession.