In Memorium – Dr. Vince Kokich

Dr. Vincent G Kokich

The passing of Dr. Vince Kokich this past July has left us stunned and bereft.  Vince had a way of making each and every interaction a meaningful one, and thus his loss is extremely personal and poignant for all of us; especially here at ‘his’ orthodontics department at the UW.

Vince_Kokich_2012Vince gave us the tools to eulogize him and to honor his memory by providing the example of relentless pursuit of excellence, unquenchable curiosity, and adherence to the highest levels of research principles, while everyone who dealt with Vince in any capacity benefited from his kindness, warmth, generosity of spirit, sense of humor, and keen intelligence.

Words alone are inadequate to encompass the scope and to ease the pain of this loss, but deeds – as Vince set us the example to perform them – will help us to carry on his legacy and provide us comfort in their execution; to honor his memory and contributions to dentistry in perpetuity.  The following letter from Dr. Greg Huang, UW Department of Orthodontics Chair, outlines our plan to begin doing this right away :

Dear Alums,

It has been five months since Vince’s passing, and he is missed dearly by his family, his colleagues, and the entire orthodontic profession.  Here in the Department, we are slowly getting used to the fact that we can no longer walk down the hall for a chat with Vince. He was a very special individual – above all, a devoted family man; and to the orthodontic profession, an inspirational clinician, educator, and leader.

As you know, Vince’s family asked that remembrances be directed towards the Kokich-Shapiro Endowed Scholar Fund, which supports a 2-day lectureship from a prominent orthodontist every year.  Our students always comment that these visits are very special events that allow them to make a personal connection with the giants in our field.  Many of you have generously donated to this fund over the past few months, and it became clear that some additional purpose for the funds should be considered.

At the University, one of the highest honors is having an Endowed Professorship in your name, and no one would be more deserving of this honor than Vince.  After discussions with Vince’s family, as well as with Peter Shapiro, the decision was made to modify the Kokich-Shapiro Endowed Scholar Fund to the Kokich-Shapiro Endowed Fund for Excellence in Orthodontics. This new fund will continue to support the annual Kokich-Shapiro Visiting Scholar, but importantly, once sufficient funds are reached, it will also provide funding for a part or full time faculty member who will hold the title of the Kokich-Shapiro Endowed Professor.

I can think of no better way to honor Vince, and I hope each of you will assist with the establishment of this prestigious new position.  Each of us has benefitted tremendously from our association with Vince, both personally and professionally.  Vince taught us to dream big, and this case, the dream is considerable – we need a minimum of $500,000, with an ultimate goal of about 3 million. However, I am a strong believer in our orthodontic family, and if each of us donates the fees from just one case, we could easily raise $1.5 million this year.  That would allow us to initiate a search for the first Kokich-Shapiro Endowed Professor in 2014.

I just made my donation, and I ask each of you to donate “A Case for Vince.”  He has contributed so much to our Department and to the Profession, and the establishment of this Endowed Chair would be a fitting tribute to his legacy.


Greg J. Huang, DMD, MSD, MPH

Professor and Chair

*Donations can be made online at:

(Select the Kokich-Shapiro Endowed Fund)