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S. Sigmund STAHL

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S. Sigmund STAHL Obituary
Dr. S. Sigmund Stahl, a pioneer in the field of periodontics, passed away peacefully at home on May 5, 2018 in Singer Island, Florida, at the age of 92, with his grandchildren and his caretakers by his side. Dr. Stahl had many titles during his distinguished career - he was chair of the American Board of Periodontology, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at New York University School of Dentistry - but at heart, he was an educator. "He trained literally thousands of students to appreciate that first there are people, and then there are mouths, and then there are teeth," said Dr. Harold C. Slavkin, retired Dean of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry and a former student of Dr. Stahl. His intellectual vibrancy and his method of teaching left "an indelible mark on everyone he met." His students were not the only beneficiaries of his Socratic teaching style, of continuously asking questions and provoking little arguments to stimulate critical thought. His daughter Jacquelyn, along with his two stepsons, Raviv and Aram, and his six grandchildren, grew up accustomed to being put in his so-called hot seat. In retrospect there was no better place to be. Dr. Stahl was also a Holocaust survivor who came to the United States at age 14, fleeing Nazi Germany and his birthplace in Berlin. Like many survivors of his generation, he always struggled to find faith in a world that had betrayed him at an early age. But even as he wrestled with his demons, he continuously pushed himself and his children to "therefore choose life," as he often said, quoting Deuteronomy. When he "retired" to Florida, in 1990, he dove into his true passion, studying and teaching Judaism. In addition to helping to found the dental school at Nova Southeastern University, he studied every morning from 5 a.m. onward, and taught regular classes in the Jewish community. He inspired his many students and his family with the breadth of his knowledge of philosophy, literature, and Jewish history and thought. Even after he became unable to travel to Nova, he continued to receive students in his home. Dr. Stahl was relentless in his search for knowledge and meaning, asking nothing less of those around him, but was also a doting father and grandfather who pressed his family to live life joyously. He frequently evoked one of his favorite poems, by Auden, "There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair, irregular verbs to learn, and time being to be redeemed from insignificance." He reminded his loved ones to praise God, even in their darkest times. Dr. Stahl is survived by his granddaughter, Elizabeth Dwoskin, his grandson and his wife, Eric and Lauren Dwoskin, and his stepsons Raviv and Aram Schwartz, and their families. A service to honor his life will be held 2:00PM on Wednesday, May 9 at Star of David Cemetery of the Palm Beaches, 9321 Memorial Park Road, in West Palm Beach.
Published in The Palm Beach Post on May 8, 2018
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