We are saddened to share with you the passing of John E. Gilster, D.D.S., one of the NFED’s three incorporators. “Dr. G.” always had a smile on his face, a twinkle in his eye, and a love for Mary Kaye Richter’s homemade pies at NFED Board meetings.
Mary Kaye heard Dr. Gilster talking on a radio program in St. Louis around 1980, shortly after her son, Charley, had been diagnosed with ectodermal dysplasia. She called in to the show to comment that dentists are often the ones who diagnose medical conditions such as ectodermal dysplasias. Next, Mary Kaye wrote him a letter in which she shared what she was doing to get an organization started for ectodermal dysplasias. He called her. They met. And, Dr. Gilster jumped on board and was dedicated to the NFED for the next three decades.
Dr. Gilster was a pediatric dentist and one of three individuals who incorporated the NFED, on December 24, 1981 in Mascoutah, Illinois. He treated children affected by ectodermal dysplasia for more than 30 years beginning in the early 1950s. He served on the NFED Board of Directors from 1981 through 2003 and served as an emeritus member thereafter. He served as treasurer and vice-chairman and as a member on the Treatment Fund Committee, the Executive Committee, the Scholarship Committee, and the golf tournament committee. Dr. G. helped write A Dental Guide to the Ectodermal Dysplasia Syndromes as well as articles related to dentistry and ectodermal dysplasias, and he participated in Family Conferences.
In 2004, the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias (NFED) Board of Directors announced the establishment of the John E. Gilster, D.D.S. Outstanding Service Through Dentistry Award. The award is bestowed on any individual actively involved in dentistry or its allied partners who have exhibited a long standing commitment to the NFED, its dental programs and patients affected by ectodermal dysplasias.
Dr. Gilster attended the University of Illinois and graduated from Washington University School of Dentistry in 1944. He practiced pediatric dentistry and taught the subject from 1950 through the mid 1980s at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a member and chairman of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and was a member of the Missouri Board of Pediatric Dentistry. His other affiliations were with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Society of Dentistry for Children and the American Association of Dental Schools. Dr. Gilster has also served as editor of the St. Louis Dental Society Bulletin (1953-1963), the Missouri Dental Journal (1963-1973), and editor of the Washington University Dental Alumni Newsletter. In 1970, he served as president of the American Association of Dental Editors. In 1977, he was named the Distinguished Alumnus by the Washington University Dental Alumni Association having served as its president in 1969.
Dr. G was a man who loved his family and grandchildren immensely.
All of us at the NFED are tremendously grateful for the years that Dr. Gilster shared his expertise and love with us and our families. We are honored and blessed by his endless contribution to the ectodermal dysplasias community.
Pictured right: Dr. Gilster checks the dentures of a boy affected by ectodermal dysplasia in 1952.