Longtime educator R. Norman Weller, D.M.D., M.S., passed away in Lexington, Tenn., on July 21, after a year-long battle with cancer. Dr. Weller, or Norm, as he was often called, is survived by his loving wife Jean, four children and nine grandchildren.
Norm was a 1968 graduate of Clemson University and received his dental degree in 1972 from from Medical University of South Carolina College of Dental Medicine, College of Dental Medicine. He then entered the U.S. Army Dental Corps at Fort Benning, Ga., completing a one-year dental internship. During his military career, Dr. Weller began his venture into academics and teaching in 1982 when he became the Endodontic Mentor and Director of the General Dentistry Residency Program at Fort Jackson, S.C. His teaching career continued in 1986 when he was named Assistant Director and, a year later, Director of the Endodontic Residency Program, Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon, GA, where he served until 1990.
His professional accomplishments during this tour of duty were recognized by the surgeon general of the Army by Dr. Weller being awarded the “A” Professional Designator. Following a tour in Germany, Dr. Weller retired from the Army Dental Corps in 1992 as a colonel with 20-plus years of exemplary and honorable service.
Retirement from the Army Dental Corps didn’t stop Dr. Weller from finding another teaching position as he was soon selected to be the Director of the Postgraduate Endodontic Program, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. After 3 years of mentoring in Philadelphia, Dr. Weller had an opportunity to return to his “Southern” roots where he accepted a position at the Medical College of GA, School of Dentistry (now The Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University), as director of the Postgraduate Endodontic Program. His accomplishments were rewarded three years later with him being named chairman of the Endodontic Department. During his tenure as chairman he made significant contributions that advanced the quality and standing of the endodontic undergraduate and postgraduate programs. He published numerous research articles in peer reviewed journals and lectured nationally and internationally. He chaired and served on many committees within the University and the American Association of Endodontists. Dr. Weller became a lifetime member of Omicron Kappa Upsilon (the national dental honor society) and served as president of Kappa Lambda, the local chapter.
After a 20-year military career and another 20 years of devoted service in civilian academics, Dr. Weller officially retired in 2012. Although he dedicated much of his time to his professional career, Dr. Weller was also an avid fisherman who enjoyed fishing with Jean at local lakes and also taking trips with his fishing buddies to distant locations. Dr. Weller also loved to work in his “shop” where he produced wonderful wood working and 3-D printing projects that were presented as gifts to family and friends. Dr. Weller will be dearly missed and remembered by his family, friends and students.
“Colonel Norm Weller was my mentor in the Army Endodontic Residency Program and Professor Weller was my Chairman at the Dental College of Georgia,” said AAE life member Dr. Robert J. Loushine. “He taught and led by example and always built up those around him. Most importantly, Norm was a dear friend for over 30 years. In addition to our sharing the joys and sorrows of endodontics, Norm attempted to teach the finer points of fishing, wood working and metal detecting to me, unfortunately with limited success. In keeping with Norm’s adage to keep things simple: “Today, we lost one of the good guys.”
Drs. Eugene A. Pantera, Jr., and Carole T. Pantera penned a joint tribute to Dr. Weller: “It was with profound sadness that we learned of the passing of Dr. Rodger Norman Weller. Having first met him during our time at the Medical College of Georgia while he was at Fort Gordon, we became close collaborators in using personal computers for teaching and learning. Because of Dr. Weller’s generosity by including MCG faculty and residents in activities of the Army’s Advanced Endodontic Program at Fort Gordon, many of us developed an appreciation for military dentistry and the extensive training possible in the service. Norm was always willing to share. His wealth of experience and skill surely shaped and affected all who knew him. The quintessential Southern gentleman, we will miss Norm.”