A Conference for the Ages

Legacy families come together for centennial celebration
Family posing with 100 year sign

This year at the Midwest Dental Conference, the UMKC School of Dentistry celebrated 100 years of gathering for an annual alumni meeting. For some alumni, their first experience at the conference wasn’t as a dentist, or even as a dental student – but instead, as a kid, tagging along with their parents or grandparents. Those childhood family trips to MDC are often just the beginning of a deep connection with the School of Dentistry that the school’s alumni share.

Mark Mosier (D.D.S. ’85) remembers attending the alumni meetings with his dad, Richard Mosier (D.D.S. ’54), and grandfather, Harry Mosier (D.D.S. 1922), in the 1970s. According to Mark, Harry was close friends with Roy Rinehart, former dean of the School of Dentistry and the namesake of the Rinehart Foundation. Harry liked to  tell a story about an alumni meeting in the 1930s where the two friends and their wives were seated together at the banquet. It was a table for six people, but it was just the four of them. Harry looked around and noticed another couple sitting by themselves, while everyone else was cliqued up, lost in their own worlds, catching up with their buddies.

“My grandfather and Dean Rinehart were not the kind of people to ignore others,” Mosier said. “They were very inclusive and social.”

The two men went over and introduced themselves to Albert and Ruth Mizzy, who had traveled to the conference from New York City. They later learned the Mizzys owned a dental supply company that would later become the worldwide manufacturer of medical and dental supplies, Mizzy, Inc. Harry and Roy insisted the couple join their table. The new group quickly formed a close connection.

“They all became great friends,” Mosier said. “The Mizzys would come visit for the holidays, they’d go hunting together. And they came back to that meeting year after year.”

Mark Mosier started attending MDC when he was just five years old. Now 65, this year’s meeting is a special one for him. He attended with his niece Kiralyn Mosier, who graduated from the School of Dentistry in May.

“Kiralyn will be the fourth generation Mosier graduating from UMKC,” Mark Mosier said. “I am so proud she is continuing the legacy we have. We’re all very excited.”

The Samples are another legacy family that had a strong turnout for this year’s MDC. Kyle Samples (D.D.S. ’11) and his brother, Stuart Samples (D.D.S. ’07), are partners at McCoy Samples Mattingly Dental Clinic in Carrolton, Missouri. The two have been attending MDC with their dad, James Samples (D.D.S. ’71), for as long as they can remember.

“I remember going when I was six years old, hanging out with the kids of Dad’s alumni buddies,” said Kyle Samples. “Now, my kids love doing that too. They look forward to it all year.”

This year, another generation joined the mix as Stuart’s daughter, Emily Samples, attended MDC with him. Now a sophomore at the University of Missouri, Emily plans to apply to dental school after undergrad. Kyle’s wife, Krystal, and their two children also made the drive down to Kansas City, making this year’s conference a little bit of a family vacation.

“In 50-plus years, I’ve only missed one (MDC), when I was serving in the military,” James Samples said. “I love having my boys with me at the meetings. It’s wonderful. I’m so proud of them.”

James remembers the earlier years he attended the conference fondly. He and his classmates would compare notes on the continuing education each day, trade clinical stories and share memories about dental faculty. According to James, his classmates would go out on the town, but he and his wife Maggie would forgo the partying to have a quiet dinner with other married classmates.

“It’s about reconnecting with special friends,” James said, “and shooting the bull.”

Technically, the name Midwest Dental Conference was adopted in 1994. But UMKC alumni have connected over oral health education and comraderie since at least 1923, when the UMKC Dental Alumni Association first met. The Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Association eventually joined the conference in the years that followed.

This year’s conference, held April 13–16, celebrated those 100 years of meetings by welcoming 2,500 attendees and exhibitors to the heart of Kansas City. Presented by the UMKC Dental and Dental Hygienist’s Alumni Associations, the conference featured nearly 40 lectures and hands-on sessions across two Crown Center hotels.

The enthusiastic screams of alumni could be heard across the Sheraton lobby as old classmates greeted each other. By the class composite displays, friends hugged and laughed over photos from their college days. Alumni agree that the way the event brings people together is one of the reasons it’s so special and has had such a long tenure.

Current students also took part in the conference, as they do each year. In the exhibit hall, fourth-year dental students presented their research during table clinics. Mosier remembers that time in his life fondly. He earned first place when he was in school, and later went on to judge the competition.

On Friday, the exhibit hall opened to attendees, and more than 90 companies displayed cutting-edge oral health technology and services. It’s a particular highlight for Stuart Samples.

“I always end up getting some new equipment,” he said. “It’s great because we’ve gotten to know a lot of the reps, and it’s fun to see them as well.”

The opportunities to connect are plentiful, with the UMKC Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Association Celebration Luncheon, Recent Grad Party, Orthodontic Meeting and more. This year, the Samples were particularly excited for the Pierre Fauchard Academy Regional Meeting. Kyle was inducted into the academy, while Stuart and their practice partner, David Mattingly, watched on.

While the reunions may have drawn participants to MDC, continuing education was also a big part of the weekend for the Samples. Sessions ranged from the effects of vaping to homeopathic trends and included hands-on workshops for endodontics and composite dentistry.

James Samples has long been a champion of the educational aspect of the conference. Both Kyle and Stuart call their dad the “furious note taker” of the family. They’ve even adopted their own family strategy for tackling the day.

“We’ve learned over the years that if we split up, we can each learn something and share it,” Stuart explained. “Dad always says, ‘You’ll always get that one pearl of wisdom you can take back home with you.’”

After all educational sessions and alumni celebrations were said and done, attendees traveled back home Sunday afternoon with yet another weekend’s worth of memories and a new breadth of knowledge to put into practice.

“Anytime a meeting can go on for 100 years, somebody's doing something right,” Mosier said. “I’m proud of my school. I’m proud of my family.”

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Published: Aug 25, 2023
Posted In: Our People

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