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Remembering Dr. James C. Kulild

AAE past president Dr. James C. Kulild, D.D.S., M.S., passed away on Tuesday, January 18.  Dr. Kulild was born April 6, 1947 in Sioux City, Iowa to Mr. and Mrs. James C Kulild.  He is survived by his loving friend, Anita Aminoshariae, D.D.S., M.S., Cleveland, OH, where Dr. Kulild passed away.  Dr. Kulild is also survived by his daughters and their families, Ana K. Crawford, D.D.S., Emily B. Adams, R.D.H., and Jamie E. Kirby, M.D.

Dr. Kulild exhibited lifelong exemplary dedication to the endodontic specialty and to his country. His meaningful contributions to the specialty span the breadth of research, education, service and leadership. Throughout his career Dr. Kulild commanded the respect and admiration of his colleagues and students, who have recognized him for his integrity, compassion, decisive leadership, and genuine spirit.

Dr. Kulild graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City dental school in 1973, completed his endodontic training at Madigan Army Medical Center in Ft. Lewis in 1983, and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Endodontics in 1986. He served as a member and chair of numerous AAE committees and served the AAE as its President in 2012-2013. Dr. Kulild was inducted to Omicron Kappa Upsilon, and is a Fellow of the International College of Dentists, the American College of Dentists, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy.

Dr. Kulild’s legacy is one of leadership and service. He served the U.S. Army for 32 years, during which he commanded not only an endodontic graduate program, but also directed the medical and dental forces in Europe. During his time in the Army, Dr. Kulild was appointed as Director, U.S. Army  Endodontic Residency Program at Fort Gordon, Ga. He served as Dean and Commandant, Academy of Health Sciences, the largest school of allied health sciences in the world, Fort Sam Houston, a role which made him responsible for 36,000 annual students and 1,100 staff and faculty. Dr. Kulild was selected to serve on a healthcare committee responsible for consolidating all medical and dental training within the Department of Defense. He then commanded the 93D Medical Battalion, Heidelberg, Germany. He subsequently accepted the job of NATO Medical Force Commander and Brigade Combat Team Surgeon. He served as Commander, Task Force Medical Falcon, Operation Joint Guardian, Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo. This role required his oversight of an over-200 soldier medical task force, including the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) – the last MASH in the U.S. Army – six Blackhawk air ambulances, and 20 ground ambulances. His professional accomplishments were recognized by the surgeon general by Dr. Kulild being awarded the “A” Professional Designator.

Following his remarkable and decorated military career, from which he retired as a Colonel,  Dr. Kulild founded the Advanced Specialty Education Program in Endodontics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he served as program director. Following his retirement from UMKC, Dr. Kulild has continued to contribute to the specialty by sharing his expertise with others and by co-authoring research papers.

Throughout his career, Dr. Kulild authored numerous papers and contributed to several textbooks. Dr. Kulild is probably best known for his contribution to our better appreciation and understanding of maxillary molar morphology, and has also contributed significantly to obturation; Endodontic technology; instrumentation; evidence-based literature and systematic reviews. He has supported countless endodontists in achieving academic and clinical excellence through his mentorship.

His legacy will live on through his former residents, colleagues, friends and family.

Another tribute to his legacy is that the Army Medical Department Museum Foundation, Inc  in Memory of Dr. Kulild, engraved a brick in the Museum Courtyard of the Army Medical Department Museum.

Additionally, the Honorable Senator Rob Portman requested a flag to be flown over the United States Capital for his Memorial and service to our country and Dental Profession.

The Foundation for Endodontics makes it simple to make a donation to memorialize and honor Dr. Kulild’s legacy; you can do so here.

Once you visit the link, add your desired contribution amount, and click "Dedicate this gift" to enter Dr. Kulild's name. In the "Notify someone about this gift" field, please include, and we will ensure an acknowledgement of the gift is sent to you as well as Dr. Kulild's loved ones.

Special Tributes

We have compiled the following special tributes to Dr. Kulild from those who knew him well:

I’m not going to lie. When I met Jim I was totally intimidated!  I was an incoming AAE Board member and he was the Vice President of the AAE tasked with orienting the newcomers. He was dressed sharply, ran a tight meeting and had exceptional institutional knowledge. My first impression of a no-nonsense, type A+ personality was tempered by his patient and thorough answers to an onslaught of freshman questions. I connected with Jim at that first meeting through our mutual interest in "hot" electronics. He then became a terrific and trusted AAE mentor and friend throughout my years of service and beyond. I will miss Jim dearly and especially so this Spring in Phoenix where he would have greeted me warmly with his infectious smile and curiosity about the goings on in my life. Rest in peace my friend. -Dr. Tevyah J. Dines

Jim was the consummate ambassador for our specialty at all levels – to his residents, to his fellow colleagues, to his patients, and to his partner Anita. His love for endodontics was contagious. He was an eloquent speaker and most importantly, always “listened” to whomever was by his side. I will miss him dearly as he provided me quality mentorship during our times together on the AAE Board of Directors. For those unaware, his knowledge of music trivia was amazing.  Jim will never be forgotten – his friendly demeanor and smiling face will always remain fixtures in my mind. - Dr. Gerald N. Glickman

Jim Kulild was a gentle, knowledgeable academician. He led the AAE well during his presidency (2012-2013) and is well known for his articles on root canal anatomy and the systematic reviews that he co-authored with Dr. Aminoshariae. During the COVID pandemic I spoke with him often on the phone and, despite his health problems, he always was upbeat. He never complained about his medical situation, but he always praised his caretakers for the work that they do, and praised the Army for paying for his treatment. His favorite topic, however, was old movies. Jim had a wonderful memory of the actors in each film as well as some great lines that they were famous for. These discussions will be missed. -Dr. Samuel O. Dorn

Dr. Kulild was dedicated to the profession and the organization.  He loved his profession and was always adamant about doing what he could to further endodontics. He was a patriot, an educator, a mentor, and a friend. -Dr. Clara M. Spatafore

Jim was a friend, a mentor, a true gentleman, and a prolific contributor to our organization and our specialty. He was kind, caring, and supportive of myself and my family. Jim was an inspirational and thoughtful leader who always saw the best in everyone and everything. We will miss him dearly. -Dr. Stefan I. Zweig

Jim Kulild was my friend, a colleague, a leader and a man who loved to tell stories. Jim was incredibly organized and this attribute, combined with his extensive leadership training and experiences in the Army, made him very effective in getting any job done. After retiring from the Army, Jim led the charge to establish an Advanced Educational Program in Endodontics at UMKC. As Jim would say, it was located in the Great State of Misery. Together with his great friend, Anita Aminoshariae, Jim made many contributions to the art and science of Endodontics, including two papers in just the last six months. They are required reading for practitioners and residents who wish to apply contemporary ideas to modern endodontic practice. I will miss his smile, his laughter and his well-developed sense of humor. -Dr. Ken M. Hargreaves

I had a great fortune to meet Dr. James Kulild during a fundraising event for the Foundation of the American Association of Endodontists (AAE) at an Annual meeting of the AAE in Washington DC years ago. From there on, we became close friends and we often spoke on the phone or exchanged emails. Despite our background differences, we always had deep and sincere respect for each other. I found him a genuine, exceeding intelligent, and caring gentleman who sincerely believed in God as he referred to him as Lord. Yes, he had accomplished many things in the United States Army and in endodontic education. But, the thing that makes Jim unique is his humility and sincere love and respects for his fellow human beings regardless of their cultural, religious and political differences. His individual accomplishments and his caring character elevated many people in their lives. I thank God who gave me an opportunity to meet him and celebrate his life and legacy. God bless his soul and may he rest in peace. -Dr. Mahmoud Torabinejad

Colonel Kulild served 28 years active duty in the US Army with highlights of serving as Director of the US Army endodontic resident program in Fort Gordon, Georgia; culminating with leadership as US commanding officer and NATO surgeon with the task force Falcon during strategic activities in Kosovo. After retirement from the US Army, Jim returned to his alma mater at UMKC in Kansas City and established the grad Endo residency program at UMKC. One can often sense the ability of leadership, and that happened with me when Jim began his role on the AAE Board of Directors meeting in conjunction with the ADA 2001 Kansas City meeting. Jim had just been released from the hospital with a cardiac procedure, and he was ready to go. His creative leadership developed into him becoming elected AAE President. We will all miss Jim’s enthusiasm for life; his ability to make everyone feel welcome; his generosity with sharing knowledge and wisdom with so many students, residents, and colleagues; his leadership by consensus. Frankie and I are blessed having his friendship over the years. -Dr. John Olmsted

Please enjoy this slideshow of submitted photos honoring Dr. Kulild.