Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists Bulletin Summer 2020 - 28

People in Orthodontics

Portrait of a Professional

Dr. Richard Sparks
Dr. Jae Hyun Park
PCSO Bulletin Editor-in-Chief
Mesa, AZ

Dr. Richard Sparks
Phoenix, AZ

Jae Hyun Park (JP): Tell me about your childhood.
Richard Sparks (RS): I was born in Phoenix,
Arizona, and grew up on a Hereford ranch in
northwestern Arizona. Eventually, we moved to
a farm in west Phoenix, where I was a member
of the 4-H Club. My older brother, John, and I
raised dairy and beef cattle along with cotton,
grain, and feed crops. We both competed in
high school sports, but our main interest was
agriculture. 4-H activities were paramount,
competing in both county and state activities.
Following these interests, we both graduated
from Arizona State University (ASU) with a
degree in livestock production. My brother went
on to veterinary medicine, while my interest
turned to agriculture business and finance,
where I became employed by Valley National
Bank of Arizona.
JP: How did you choose dentistry and orthodontics?
RS: While attending ASU, I lived close to my family dentist, Dr. Ralph McMillan, and visited him
quite frequently. As time progressed, I became
more interested in dentistry than in the finance
industry, resulting in my return to ASU in the
pursuit of dentistry.
JP: Where and when did you complete your dental education?
RS: I attended Saint Louis University (SLU) School
of Dentistry, graduating in 1968. During my third
year of dental education, Dr. Kenneth Marshall,
director of the orthodontic department, instructed us in the history of orthodontics, and I was
immediately hooked! Stopping him after the last
lecture, I asked, "This is something I have to do,
how do I get in?"
JP: Which orthodontic residency did you choose,
what techniques were taught, and who were your
early mentors?

28	

RS: Continuing my education at Saint Louis
University School of Dentistry Department of
Orthodontics, I graduated in 1970. The orthodontic department faculty consisted of Drs. Kenneth
Marshall (founder of the SLU Orthodontic Department), Dr. Peter Sotiropoulos (clinical director),
and Dr. Gus Sotiropoulos (craniofacial director
at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital & The
Orthodontic Clinic). I was fortunate to receive a
fellowship working with Dr. Sotiropoulos on the
craniofacial team at the hospital. The department
primarily followed Tweed philosophy, with Drs.
Peter Sotiropoulos, Leo Mastorakos, George Uchiyama, and Philip Levins. However, we also treated
Begg light wire under the direction of Dr. Peter
Kesling of Laporte, Indiana.
JP: Did you do any research?
RS: Under the direction of Dr. Peter Sotiropoulos,
my master's research, titled "Class III Malocclusion, A Diagnostic Scoring System," developed
a system which attempted to differentiate
cases requiring orthodontic and orthognathic
surgery from those requiring just orthodontics.
This is used as a guide in my teaching today. Dr.
Marshall and Dr. Pete Sotiropoulos asked me to
become a member of the SLU faculty after graduation, offering me a position to teach part-time
while practicing part-time in the Saint Louis area.
I wanted to return to my hometown to practice,
so we agreed on a five-year, part-time position.
The result was a gratifying partnership as associate clinical professor of orthodontics at Saint
Louis University for more than 30 years, 14 of
those years under the direction of Dr. Lysle Johnston. During the SLU faculty years, I was president
of the Alumni Association and the Orthodontic
Education and Research Foundation. Later, I was
co-director, with Dr. Pete Sotiropoulos, of the Orthodontic Education and Research Foundation, a
foundation that originated to financially support
research and education at the SLU Orthodontic
Department, now named the Saint Louis University Center for Advanced Dental Education.

PCSO Bulletin    Summer 2020



Pacific Coast Society of Orthodontists Bulletin Summer 2020

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