Dr. Douglas Atwood

September 25, 1922June 29, 2010

Douglas Allen Atwood Gentleman, dentist, professor, family man

Chatham, Massachusetts – Douglas Allen Atwood (87), M.D., D.M.D., of Chatham Massachusetts died at home on Tuesday, June 29, 2010, with his beloved wife of 63 years Minnie Eldredge Atwood at his side. They were married December 22, 1946 in Chatham where his bride was born and raised, and where the couple retired after raising six children in West Roxbury and after Dr. Atwood had led an accomplished career as a practicing dentist and as a professor and researcher of dentistry and prosthodontics.

Douglas was born in Boston on September 25, 1922 to Clifford Herman Atwood and Lillian Ovens Atwood and was raised by his parents in the Boston area, with his sister Virginia and brother Donald, who predeceased him. He graduated in 1940 from Roxbury Latin School, the secondary school where his five sons also later studied, and he recently attended the 70th reunion of his graduation from the school. He earned his A.B. from Amherst College in 1943.

Douglas was a second generation dentist who at the age of ten dreamed of attending the Harvard Dental School like his father and practicing dentistry with him. In 1943 he began a joint degree program with the Harvard Medical School and Dental School, and was simultaneously commissioned a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He earned his M.D. in 1946, conducted a surgical internship at Boston City Hospital, spent two years as a surgeon in the U.S. Army Medical Corp., and earned the rank of Captain before leaving military service. During and after his service in the Army he pursued his dream of dentistry, receiving his D.M.D. cum laude from Harvard in 1951 and joining his father in the practice of dentistry in Back Bay, Boston.

Father and son practiced together for several years until Clifford’s retirement, when Douglas continued the thriving practice on his own. Throughout most of his practice, Dr. Atwood taught and conducted research part-time at Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM). After 21 years of practice he went full-time at HSDM, where he chaired the Department of Prosthetic Dentistry, directed the teaching and faculty clinics, and continued his research and teaching of post-doctoral students. Dr. Atwood’s research on residual ridge resorption was groundbreaking in the field of prosthodontics. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff at Brigham Hospital, as President of the Academy of Prosthodontics and of the Federation of Prosthodontic Associations, and in numerous other leadership positions in his field.

In 1981, Harvard School of Dental Medicine recognized his many contributions with the Distinguished Faculty Award, including the citation, “Teacher, researcher, clinician, administrator, you have managed to wear four hats without getting a swelled head.”

Upon his retirement, with his wife, he devoted himself to the conservation of Goose Pond and surrounding woodlands in Chatham. Douglas Atwood was a man of deep Christian faith. He was a member of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Chatham and of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in West Roxbury where he served several terms on vestry and as warden.

Cherished by his family, and loved and respected by friends, patients, students, co-workers, and colleagues as a man of integrity, humility, and kindness, Douglas Atwood gave much but asked for little in return. At the 50th reunion of his graduation from Harvard Medical School, when asked for his advice to the graduating senior of 1996, he said, “‘It is better to give than to receive.’ Find something you like to which you can give yourself and give it your best.”

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his sons Steven of Chatham, Thomas and his wife Eileen of Clifton Virginia, James and his wife Shelley Hankin of Newton, Frederick of Oakton Virginia, Daniel and his wife Mary of Woodstock Connecticut, his daughter Laura Duran and her husband Angel Felix Duran of Hyde Park, and 14 grandchildren.

Visiting hours will be 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 1, 2010 at Nickerson Funeral Home, 87 Crowell Rd., Chatham. A funeral service will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 2, 2010 at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, 625 Main St., Chatham, followed by a reception at the church. The burial service will be conducted at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 7, 2010 at Forest Hills Cemetery, 95 Forest Hills Ave., Boston, followed by a 12:30 p.m. reception at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 21 Stratford St., West Roxbury.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Clifford H. and Douglas A. Atwood Teaching Fund for Prosthetic Dentistry at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, 188 Longwood Ave., Boston.

For online condolences and guestbook, visit


  • Visitation Thursday, July 1, 2010
  • Funeral Service Friday, July 2, 2010

Dr. Douglas Atwood

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Nancy Roddy McGillicuddy

July 22, 2010

I have fond memories of riding the AM commuter rail in the early 60's into Boston with my Stratford St. neighbor. The Roddy Family sends sympathy and prayers to the Atwood Family on their great loss.

Donald Megathlin

July 11, 2010

Dear Atwood Family;

My mother's dentist was Dr. Atwood for years. She saw him in the early 50's, or 60 years ago. Fortunately, he became my dentist through my college years to 1959, when I graduated from college. The last time I saw him was probably 1959, as a 22 year old. He was a wonderful man, and to this day, I wish he was my life long dentist. Even as a young man, I could tell how understanding, compassionate, and sensitive he was as a dentist. As a prep school and college hockey player, I was a dentist's dream. In those days, there were no face masks, mouth guards, etc, and I paid the price. But Dr. Atwood kept me together, minus several front teeth.
I am retired on the Cape now but worked in Boston (Back Bay) for many of my working years, and always looked at the building at Commonwealth and Berkley where his office was for so many years. It is a high-end condo building now.

My sympathies to the Atwood family.

Don Megathlin

Andrew Beauchamp

July 10, 2010

It is evident that Dr. Atwood lived a life filled marked by love, excellence and generosity. We send our condolences and assure you of our prayers during this difficult time.

Andrew and Mary Beth Beauchamp

July 8, 2010

Dear Atwood Family,
We have such fond memories of Dr. Atwood and our time in Spain with him. We thank the Lord for being able to count him as one of our friends. We pray that the Lord will give you His peace and comfort during these days!
Mick & Nora Suman

July 7, 2010

Dear Atwood Family,
Jane and I count it all joy that we had the opportunity to get to know your family during Laura's time in Spain. We have only respect and admiration for your father and for his model of giving to others without regard to his own needs. May you experience God's presence in very personal and new ways during this difficult journey of letting go such a wonderful and godly man.
Doug & Jane Haltom

Robert Lent

July 2, 2010


I am very sorry to hear of your Dad's passing. From what I've read, he was a excellent man! I enjoyed greatly our friendship at Roxbury Latin for my three years @ RLS in the early 1970's and a couple of reunion meetings since. I lost my Dad in 2005; like your Dad, he was a Captain in the US Army. I wish you and your family solace in your great loss, and I hope to see you again!

Your friend, Rob Lent

Jonathan Wood

July 2, 2010

Dear Atwood Family,
On behalf of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, I was saddened to hear of Dr. Atwood's passing. He was a remarkable man and his accomplishments will not soon be forgotten--especially by those for whom he was a mentor, teacher, and friend. The Atwood Family is very much the the thoughts of all of us at the School.
Jonathan Wood
Director of Alumni Relations
Harvard School of Dental Medicine

Lionel Pelletier

July 2, 2010

I will always remember Dr. Atwood as a giving person with a wealth of knowledge in the field of Prosthodontics and a pivotal research mentor. He was a genuine gentleman whose impact on my career and life was essential.
Thank you Dr. Atwood for all you did for many generations of Harvard Prosthodontic postdoctoral students.

The Staff of Nickerson Funeral Home

July 2, 2010

We wish to extend our deepest sympathies at this difficult time.

Izchak Barzilay

July 1, 2010

I was deeply touched by Dr. Atwood when I met him at one of our Academy meetings. He brought such warmth to the room and was a very humble man. I remember not that long ago, while at a meeting, the elevators stopped working so he decided to take the stairs and did so "two at a time". I could not keep up with him. I told him that "when I grew up I wanted to be like him". The prosthodontic world will miss him.