Dr. Wayne Lee McLaughlin
1930 - 2021
Frederick-Dean Funeral Home
1801 Frederick Rd
Opelika, AL
We are deeply saddened to share that Auburn has lost Dr. Wayne Lee McLaughlin. Dr. McLaughlin was devoted to serving his patients with excellence and kindness during the 38 years he practiced dentistry in Auburn. At age 91, when asked what he considered the most important personal accomplishment of his life, he said there were actually three: his decision to become a dentist, his choice of his beloved wife Joanne, and his decision to live and practice in beautiful Auburn, Alabama. Dr. McLaughlin was born in 1930 in Blue Springs, Alabama, the eighth of 8 children of Dr. James Daniel McLaughlin and Dovie Alma Whigham McLaughlin, "two distinctly marvelous parents who he revered and viewed as the two heroes of his life, and who inspired and provided a college education totaling 55 years for their eight children." He sincerely believed that he was blessed with a "special and unique, almost idyllic, time and environment of Blue Springs, Alabama, to be a child." He cherished the place and the people of Blue Springs his entire life and wrote later that even after traveling the country and many beautiful places in the world, he "would still choose to be born and raised in that tiny spot in Barbour County, Alabama, with those parents, those brothers and sisters, those neighbors, that school, those childhood playmates and that environment." He authored the book "Blue Springs", which recorded family genealogy and his memories of growing up in this beloved small town. Wayne always regretted that he did not actually earn a diploma from Auburn, as he was admitted to the Dental College of Birmingham (now UAB) after only 3 years of study. That dental school admission occurred in a most unique way. After speaking by phone to the new dean from Dartmouth College, Dr. Joseph Volker, and being invited for a visit to the school "sometime", Wayne hitchhiked to Birmingham one weekend with his brother Bob, a student at the Medical College of Alabama. Because of employment obligations, Saturday was the only day he could make the trip. The dental school was closed, and so they called Dr. Volker at home. His wife pulled him from his garden, he took the call and drove forthwith to the school (still in gardening attire) where they had a long conversation about Wayne's family of doctors and Blue Springs on the steps of the building. Dr. Volker immediately accepted Wayne to dental school on those steps, provided he took one more course and did well in it. He did so, and began his education as a dentist in 1950. He was reputed as one of the brightest and most well-liked in his class. While in dental school, he worked to pay expenses as a cashier in the hospital cafeteria. It was there that he first laid eyes on Joanne Hayes, who he believed was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. He saved her meal voucher and a few days later called and asked her for a date. They married on April 23, 1954, a happy marriage which lasted 62 years until her death in 2016. After graduating from dental school in 1954, he and Joanne moved to San Antonio, Texas where he served in the United States Air Force. They both loved their time in the service and made very good friends there. They then moved to Auburn and Dr. McLaughlin opened his dental practice there on March 1, 1957, the year of Auburn University's national football championship,. The philosophy that drove his professional life was a continual quest for excellence in his knowledge and skills, all for the benefit of his patients. Dr. McLaughlin single-handedly pioneered preventive dentistry in east Alabama well before it became the standard of care, educating his patients on the importance of maintaining their natural teeth for a lifetime. Even until his death, he received frequent expressions of written and spoken gratitude from former patients for the excellent way in which he cared for them. For many years, purely due to his enduring and cherished friendship with Kenny Howard, Auburn's athletic trainer, Dr. McLaughlin became the unofficial dentist to the Auburn Tigers football team, caring for many players and coaches including Pat Sullivan and Terry Beasley. He loved Auburn sports and faithfully attended football and basketball games for many years. Dr. McLaughlin served as President of the Alabama Dental Association in 1992 and was invited to address dental students at UAB on multiple occasions. He served as the first President of the School of Dentistry Alumni Association from the Ninth District Dental Society. He had a successful dental practice in Auburn for 38 years until he retired in 1995. Wayne had an avid interest in medical and dental antiques and at one time had the largest known collection of beautiful antique dental cabinets, which he later distributed lovingly to his children and grandchildren. He donated many medical and dental antiques to the University of Alabama School of Dentistry and to the Lee County Historical Society Museum. He was very generous to the city of Auburn and Auburn city schools, and this generosity made a real difference in the education of Auburn public school students. His cherished friends enriched his life, as he did theirs, and together with his wife Joanne they all shared wonderful adventures and created many warm memories traveling to Auburn football games and traveling abroad. He was well and broadly read, a true logophile who always kept a small book of unusual and rarely used words in his pocket. With these words he peppered his speech and letters, to the amusement and pleasure of his friends and family. Wayne was a true gentleman, and described by friends and family as a gentle soul. Dr. McLaughlin's integrity, kindness, wisdom and generous spirit will continue to inspire and guide us and we will always be grateful for him and his presence in our lives. A man well loved, a life well lived. Wayne is survived by four children: Carol McLaughlin Dell, M. D., Thomas Edward McLaughlin, Laura Lee McLaughlin Svacha and her husband James Baird Svacha, and Lianne McLaughlin Hand and her husband Jonathan Russell Hand. Seven grandchildren: Harold Lynn Dell, Jr. (Hal), Wayne Lee Dell, M. D., Matthew Wayne McLaughlin, D.M.D.,M.D., Margaret Page McLaughlin Hoek, James Baird Svacha. Jr., Olivia Lee Svacha, Alexandra Grace Svacha, Catherine Claire Hand DeLozier and Jonathan Russell Hand, Jr. Four great grandchildren: Caroline Elizabeth Dell, Henry Hayes Dell, Matthew Thomas McLaughlin, and Daniel James McLaughlin. He was preceded in death by his wife Joanne, his parents, two sisters Mildred McLaughlin and Imogene Webster, and 5 brothers, Dr. James Clarence McLaughlin, DVM, Rupert Whigham McLaughlin, Dr. Leon Durward McLaughlin, M.D., Dr. Robert Joseph McLaughlin, M. D., and Dr. Max Victor McLaughlin, M.D. Family will receive friends Tuesday, November 30, 2021 from 1:00 until 2:00 p.m. at Auburn United Methodist Church. A Celebration of Life will follow at 2:00 p.m. with Reverend Julie Hare officiating. In lieu of flowers the family requests, donations to the East Alabama Food Bank would be appreciated.
Published by The Birmingham News from Nov. 24 to Nov. 28, 2021.
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Calling hours
1:00p.m. - 2:00p.m.
Auburn United Methodist Church
Celebration of Life
Auburn United Methodist Church
Funeral services provided by:
Frederick-Dean Funeral Home
Sponsored by The Family.
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5 Entries
So sad to hear of Dr. McLaughlin's passing. He was my dentist for many years, from the mid 60's to his retirement. He was a kind man. I will always remember his voice as he walked into the exam room to look me over or to fix one of my many dental problems. May God bring comfort and peace to you all during this time.
Billy Bussell
December 9, 2021
Sincere condolences to the family. I was honored to know Wayne as a fellow dentist in Auburn/Opelika and the Ninth District Dental Society. Having gone to dental school at UAB before graduating Auburn University as well gave me the desire as well to return to Auburn to practice after serving in the Air Force. We agree, it was a great place to raise our girls. Wayne will be missed by all who knew and loved him.
John H. Naftel, D.M.D. (Rita)
December 8, 2021
I am so sorry for the sad loss of your loved one. May the God of comfort and tender mercies be with you and your family during this difficult period
November 29, 2021
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.
Dell Consulting
November 29, 2021
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief, and find comfort from knowing that God draws close to the broken-hearted.
T. D.
November 27, 2021
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