Born: August 27, 1927; Died: September 30, 2013.
Bernard Caplan, who has died aged 86, was one of the foremost dentists of his generation working tirelessly to improve NHS dental services.
He was born in Glasgow to Effie and Dora Caplan and was raised in Langside then Giffnock. He had one younger brother, Philip, but for four years the family also fostered a young girl, Ruth, who had been rescued from Nazi Germany. In the last three years of the Second World War, the Caplans evacuated to Strathaven and enjoyed the relative peace of the countryside.
In 1950, he graduated as a Licentiate in Dental Surgery (LDS); he was in the last group of dentists to graduate from Anderson College of Medicine, an honour he shared with other notables Charles (Charlie) Downie and Robert (Bob) Caldwell.
His clinical career started as a Flight Lieutenant Dental Officer at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland, billeted in a manor house in the nearby village of Oakham. On completion of his national service, he returned to Glasgow and following a brief spell as an associate dentist in Partick, purchased a practice at Eglinton Toll. In the waiting room he had a children's metal rocking-horse, a trademark fixture remembered by his patients to this day.
The family set up home in Thornliebank but in 1962 had his dream "ranch house" built in Newton Mearns, where he lived for the rest of his life.
He then became the first dentist to work in the new Gorbals Health Centre, having negotiated the Woodside Terms, a remuneration scheme designed to attract independent dentists into working in the new NHS Health Centres. Following this he formed a practice partnership with his old friend Willie Kelly in Kilmarnock Road where he spent the last 15 years of his clinical career, retiring in 1992.
However, it was in dental politics that he was to make a significant and lasting impression. He joined the Glasgow Local Dental Committee (LDC) and served that body for many years as dental secretary and later as chairman. He was also active within the British Dental Association (BDA) locally, nationally and internationally. This saw him at the negotiating table with health boards and with Scottish and Whitehall Health Departments where he met many senior politicians in the role of Secretary of State for Health, amongst them Kenneth Clarke.
He represented the BDA in international delegations to Washington and Moscow. His particular areas of expertise were in dental fees, superannuation and pensions.
He also took a great interest in training and he chaired the BDA Students' Committee. In the late 1970s he was instrumental in the establishment of a vocational training scheme for new dental graduates which exists to this day.
In his role as LDC secretary, he was a frequent correspondent with the letters editors of the Herald and Evening Times, correcting inaccuracies and putting the case for improved dental healthcare.
Throughout his career, he was honoured many times, from attendance at royal garden parties to the prestigious Fellowship of the British Dental Association. However it was recognition by his ain folk which meant the most to him: he was particularly delighted to be awarded an honorary membership in General Dental Surgery by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, and he felt deeply honoured to be elected president of the West of Scotland Branch of the BDA in 1984.
His other interests included travel, gardening and cars, with a particular predilection for British marques and his ultimate dream, a Jaguar.
However, fond as he was of his profession and hobbies, his devotion was to his family and in particular his beloved wife Yetta. They met as young students in 1945 and began a love which lasted 68 years. He is survived by Yetta, his brother Philip, sons Ricky, Mervyn and Alan and five granddaughters; he was especially proud that Alan followed him into the dental profession.
He will be remembered with great respect and affection by his family and his many friends, colleagues and patients.
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