James D. Koepke
(Editor's note: Jim Koepke was a patient of mine at the University of Maryland Dental School PLUS Program from 1991 until my husband and I relocated to Texas in 2000. Through the years and quarterly dental hygiene recalls, Jim became a good patient and a great friend - never failed to imbue the operatory with laughs and European chocolates. I will miss him. I always thought he would dance on all of our graves. Jim's obituary was written by his good friend, Adam Zewe. Jim would be amused to think his obituary was being published in a newspaper in the red, red, red Lone Star State.)
James D. Koepke, a long-time resident of Washington, DC, died Tuesday, April 15.
Once described as "a real mensch," he wished to thank his family, friends, foes and millions of acquaintances, who made for such an interesting life. Services were private, but his ashes were scattered - legally or not - in the middle of Scott Circle, Koepke's DC neighborhood.
Additionally as a grateful patient, he created a legacy at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) that will help faculty, staff and students provide oral health care for underserved patients. Before his death, Koepke created the James D. Koepke Fund to underwrite operations at the PLUS Clinic, the largest provider of dental care to Maryland's HIV-positive population.
More than 600 patients received dental treatment in the clinic last year. Koepke had been a patient since 1991 and felt a personal connection with the faculty, staff and students he interacted with, recalled Associate Professor Valli Meeks, DDS 1988, MS, RDH and director of the PLUS Clinic. He was also a strong supporter of the clinic's mission.
"Jim was sensitive to the needs of the underserved. He wanted to make sure these people didn't fall through the cracks," Meeks said.
She is grateful for Koepke's generosity. Since the PLUS Clinic is largely supported by grants, there is constant uncertainty surrounding funding levels. The Koepke Fund will also benefit dental and hygiene students who complete rotations in the PLUS Clinic and learn important lessons about compassion and empathy.
"Jim was impressed by how our students focus on people, not on stereotypes. They are willing to help every patient," said Meeks.
Memorial contributions to the James D. Koepke Fund for the PLUS Program may be forwarded to the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation, Inc., 620 W. Lexington Street, 2nd Floor, Baltimore, MD 21201, or by visiting www.giving.umaryland.edu or calling 410-706-4298.