Remembering Dr. Henry Gremillion

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On May 18, Henry A. Gremillion, D.D.S., MAGD, died at the age of 68 after a brief illness.

As Dean of the Louisiana State University Health New Orleans School of Dentistry and the Immediate Past Chair of the ADEA Board of Directors, Dr. Gremillion had a huge impact on dental education.

Read more about his life in obituaries prepared by ADEA and by LSU.

Facial Pain Center donations accepted at the LSU Website at

Select designation
: "Dean Henry A. Gremillion Fund" or mail to "The Henry A. Gremillion Fund Establishment of Facial Pain Center c/o LSU Health New Orleans Foundation 1100 Florida Ave., Box 22 New Orleans, LA 70119."

Below are tributes and memories from individuals who had worked with Dr. Gremillion over the years.

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"Dental education has lost a true gentleman, scholar and friend. His death is a terrible loss to all of us, but we take comfort in knowing that his contributions to dental education and to ADEA will live on. He was a class act and will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.”

Karen P. West, D.M.D., M.P.H.  |  ADEA President and CEO

"I first came to know Henry when he was a distinguished scholar and teacher at the University of Florida. He was recognized for his expertise in the challenging area of orofacial pain: its etiology, diagnosis and treatment, but perhaps most importantly for the research he conducted and the students and clinicians that he taught to take care of patients with this condition. He brought these talents to LSU when he returned there as dean. He continued the healing of the dental community after the Katrina experience and then expanded the revival of the dental school.

Fortunately for us at ADEA, he committed himself to leadership roles on the Council of Deans and the Board of Directors, culminating in his serving as the 2019-2020 Chair of the Board. We shared so many wonderful times together in so many different places, and his smile and laugh permeated each one of them. Senator Ted Kennedy spoke at the funeral for his brother Robert in a way that I now think of Henry, saying “My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered as simply a good and decent man.” Perhaps that is how I will remember Henry most vividly, as a gentle man from the small Louisiana town of Cottonwood who brought respect to everyone he encountered, humbly caring for those in pain, and mentoring the rest of us on how to lead a life well lived."

Richard W. Valachovic, D.M.D., M.P.H  |  President Emeritus, ADEA

"It has been a true pleasure and honor living my professional life in ADEA alongside Dr. Henry Gremillion. While there are not adequate words to comprehensively remember Dr. Gremillion, the following are some thought associations that have flooded my mind in the past few days: A man married to the love of his life. A devoted father who reflects fondly on raising his children. An exceedingly proud and doting grandfather. A true LSU Tiger who is welcome amongst Florida Gators. A giant in the world of orofacial pain. A gentleman. Gift for extemporaneous speaking. Empathy for those from all walks of life. Small town dentist. Oral health advocacy. Dignity. Lifelong learner. Dental educator.

Dr. Gremillion was particularly excited about the 2020 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition, the theme of which was Discover Your Pathway. This theme reflected his own sincere wish for all of the dental education community. Henry, without doubt you discovered your pathway, and you walked it with excellence. Thank you for your example, leadership, and friendship—many pathways have been blessed because of you!"

Ryan Quock, D.D.S.  |  Chair of the ADEA Board

I was heartbroken to hear of the sudden passing of Dr. Henry Gremillion. I had the great fortune of working with Henry for the past three years on the ADEA Board of Directors. Henry was the consummate gentleman and equally balanced as a distinguished leader. I admired him for his nobility, kindness and sincerity. Dental education has lost one of the best, but he will always be remembered in our hearts.”

Heather L. Conrad, D.M.D., M.S., FAPC, FRCD(C)  |  Director, Advanced Education Program in Prosthodontics School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota; Former ADEA Board Member

"In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”

Henry Gremillion contributed so much to our world every time we had the pleasure of meeting. Henry was a respectful and genuinely engaged individual who listened attentively, responded thoughtfully, and gave value and importance to each person’s concerns whether they be small or large.

Our lives now have a void that will be difficult to fill. My heartfelt sympathy to Henry’s family and all the friends he has collected along the way through a life well-lived."

Mary R. Truhlar  |  Dean, Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine; Former ADEA Board Member

"Henry Gremillion was a great colleague and a better friend. I am fortunate and grateful that our paths in life intersected. Along a similar timeline, we became deans of dental schools, actively involved in ADEA, and we discovered that we shared many aspirations. He was judicious yet light-hearted, efficient yet caring, and among everything else… always, always a gentleman.

His legacy to dental education will be only partially found in impressive new buildings and programs. He believed deeply in a strong interprofessional role for dentistry in health care. He championed the need to do more for the generation following us so they could be successful in dental education under changing and perhaps more challenging circumstances. This latter interest was the driver for the theme he selected as Chair of the ADEA Board of Directors for the 2020 ADEA Annual Session and which we will learn more about in the coming months.

Beyond all of this, he will be remembered for his character and the everyday demonstration that a good and kind person can be an outstanding leader and administrator. Henry has been the recipient of many awards and much-deserved recognition, but the joy and pride he expressed as a husband, father and grandfather made clear that his family was his greatest treasure. Few will match his love for his alma mater and his feeling of being blessed, a word he often used to describe his life. Dental education will miss him but we will remember our good fortune in being blessed by his contributions."

Monty MacNeil, D.D.S., M.Sc.  |  Professor and Dean Emeritus, University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine; Chair of the ADEA Board, 2018-2019

"It has been my great honor and privilege to serve with Dr. Henry Gremillion on the ADEA Board of Directors the last several years. Through this experience I had the opportunity to get to know Henry, both personally and professionally, on a much deeper level. To say that he was a kind gentleman is an understatement. Regardless of the setting, circumstance or challenge, the care, concern and respect he showed people was remarkable.

Henry had a warm personality with a welcoming nature and a ready smile. Humble at his core, it was never about him. He focused on others, making everyone feel included and respected. I think that was part of his southern charm and hospitality. He was so genuine; one of the rare gems you meet in life and know that the world would be a much better place if there were more people like Dr. Gremillion.

It is a sad realization that future generations of students and educators will not have the opportunity to interact with such an incredible man but will have to rely on the stories of his legacy—and what a great legacy! When I hear the last verse of Tim McGraw’s song “Humble and Kind,” that is how I will remember Dr. Gremillion. I will miss him."

Don't take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you're goin'
Don't forget turn back around
Help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

Susan Ferrante  |  ADEA Board Director for the Corporate Council

"It was an absolute honor to serve on the ADEA Board of Directors with Dr. Henry Gremillion. He lit up every room that he entered with his kind smile and warm heart by always making sure every last person was acknowledged. Outside of watching Dr. Gremillion present at ADEA Fall and Annual Sessions, my first fond memory of him occurred at my first ADEA Board Director’s meeting in Washington D.C. last June. I was intimidated, being the only dental student in a room of well-known Board Directors from each ADEA Council and ADEA staff. Dr. Gremillion was the first person to sit down next to me and congratulate me on becoming an ADEA board member. He proceeded to ask me about where I was from and what I enjoyed most about of dental school. Each meeting following, he would follow-up with me on my aspirations and goals I had told him about during this initial conversation. I was touched by this because out of all of his responsibilities as Dean of LSU and Chair of the ADEA Board that he would remember a conversation that he had with a rising fourth year dental student on the other side of the country. This was Dr. Gremillion; a truly genuine mentor, educator, and friend to everyone he had the pleasure of getting to know. Rest easy Dr. Gremillion, and know that you are greatly missed."

Mylea Wilson, RDH  |  ADEA Board Director for Students, Residents and Fellows

Dr. Gremillion was one of the kindest individuals I have ever had the opportunity to work with. It was an absolute privilege and honor to serve with him on the ADEA Board of Directors. Henry provided strong leadership and guidance during his leadership while allowing all individuals to have a voice in the organization. Henry was a true voice of dental education and went above and beyond to represent all entities of dental education, including allied dental education. In every conversation, Henry voiced his support for allied dental education and asked for input from dental education representatives. He was a true supporter of allied dental education and was always respected and much appreciated in that manner.

I had the opportunity to spend time with Henry at last year’s Program Director’s Conference. He spoke with the Council of Allied Dental Program Directors, expressing a sense of inclusiveness and support that was much appreciated. I will always treasure those memories.

Henry was also an innovative leader in dental education. He was one with a vision of how things will be in the future and how to best equip dental educators to be prepared for the future. However, what I will remember most about Henry is his kind, gentle and caring nature. He was without a doubt one of the kindest individuals I have ever met. He loved dental education, but more importantly he loved and cared for people and showed this every day in his life. More importantly, he loved his wife and his family. As Dr. Karen West stated, he was a true gentleman.

He will be greatly missed by all. I so very fortunate to know and work with such a great person. I will never forget him and will strive each day to emulate the virtues he exhibited.

Joyce C. Hudson, RDH, M.S.  |  Professor, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Dental Hygiene Department Chair, Ivy Tech Community College; Former ADEA Board Member

"For some time, I only knew of Henry at a distance, seeing him regularly at ADEA meetings. However, over the past five years, I got to know him personally. Henry was the person who you wanted to share your taxi with or be at your table for dinner. He was always going to draw you into the conversation and engage you personally. I saw him hugging, shaking hands and greeting everyone with his disarming smile. In Board meetings, his wisdom and depth of knowledge about dental education was evident when making critical decisions. It was great to attend meetings and have Henry address me with a term of endearment, like calling me “buddy.” It’s not my nickname; it’s was just Henry’s way. I remember the time when, like a teenager, he came up and gave me a playful punch in the arm. I guess I am trying to say that Henry was intelligent, engaging, friendly and had a great sense of humor.

Although we have lost a significant leader in dental education, and I will personally miss his presence, I believe he has made a huge impact in the lives of many students, dental educators, providers and the oral health profession as a whole. "

Keith A. Mays, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D.  |  Interim Dean, University of Minnesota School of Dentistry; Chair-elect of the ADEA Board 

"Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand. This quote by Gen. Colin Powell applies to my friend, Dr. Henry A. Gremillion. Henry led with a purpose always focused on a solution that everyone can and could understand. He led the ADEA Council of Deans, served as Board Director for Deans on the ADEA Board of Directors and, yes, led the ADEA Board of Directors as Chair. His compassionate leadership as Dean of the LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry resonates with every graduate and alum of that institution. Yes, my friend Henry understood the value of lasting happiness in a changing world as espoused in the Book of Joy. We spoke openly about how proud he was to receive the RWJF Grant for LSU’s Summer Enrichment Program. He was committed to increasing the diversity and inclusivity of his institution by affording to those less fortunate the value of a great education in dentistry, as was his experience as an alum of LSU.

We have lost a valued member of our dental education community and, more importantly, a gentleman and statesman who has left an indelible mark on the profession of dentistry. Rest in peace, my dear friend, and thank you for your friendship and compassion for our profession."

Leo E. Rouse, D.D.S., L.H.D.(Hon), FACD  |  Professor and Dean Emeritus, Howard University College of Dentistry; ADEA Past President 

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