Tributes to former Dundee dean

Professor Robert Yemm was a distinguished clinician, scientist and teacher

21 March, 2017 / infocus

Friends, colleagues and students have come together to pay tribute to former Dundee Dental Dean Professor Robert (Bob) Yemm who died recently after a short illness.

Former colleagues and close friends, John Drummond and John Gray, wrote the following obituary:

Professor Bob Yemm, who died after a short illness on 15 February, was a distinguished clinician, scientist and teacher. Bob (as everyone knew him) qualified BDS from Bristol in 1961, the same year as his dentist wife Glenys.

In 1965 he gained a BSc honours degree in Physiology also from Bristol and added a PhD in 1969. He moved to Dundee in 1976 as Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Dental Prosthetics, coming with an established international record as a neurophysiologist. He was an immediate hit in Dundee with students, staff and patients for his calm and reassuring manner.

He was promoted to a personal chair in 1984 and led a department with a strong record of combining research and clinical expertise. Clinically, he will best be remembered for developing (along with the late Norman Duthie and Ken Sturrock) a technique of reliably producing replacement complete dentures. The replica record block technique revolutionised replacement dentures and is now widely used within primary and secondary care.

Bob served as dean of Dundee Dental School from 1989 to 1993 and was efficient, fair and direct. Although Bob was a most gentle person, he was able to vigorously defend his department, school or discipline when necessary, and did so effectively. He was honoured to be made president of the BSSPD in 1994/5 and was made a Distinguished Scientist of the IADR in 1992 for his research in Prosthodontics.

Although always active in pursuing and encouraging research he was perhaps happiest when teaching and treating patients. He was loved by his patients and students for his kindness, care and great skill. His ability to reassure a nervous student was unsurpassed and many students felt that without his help and guidance they would never have qualified. Bob was also noted as the only member of staff of Dundee University who drove to work in a Bristol car! Occasionally, Bob would forget his pipe was still alight when wandering through the clinic to the amusement of everyone.

Bob retired from Dundee in 1999 but did not leave dentistry completely as he continued to work part time in specialist practice in Glasgow and provided some post graduate teaching. Glenys and he bought and renovated a possible Alexander “Greek” Thomson coastal home in Cove near Helensburgh where he was able to pursue his great passion for sailing.

Bob Yemm, despite his many talents, was a very modest man who was both inspiring and kindly. He will be remembered by many as a person who provided considerable help, both professionally and personally. Our condolences go to Glenys, son Richard and daughter Jane.


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