on the December 1989
cover of RDH magazine.
Irene Woodall, RDH, PhD, passed away on April 22 in Chicago. A pioneer in dental hygiene and the first editor of RDH magazine, Woodall had a profound influence on the growth of the dental hygiene profession during the 1970s and 1980s.
In the early 1980s, she collaborated with a magazine publisher, Craig Stevens, to launch a new publication for the dental hygiene profession. In her first editorial published in January 1981, she wrote:
“The purpose of this professional magazine is to help you enjoy your unique position as a hygienist by hearing from your colleagues across the country as they describe their experiences, and to provide you with ideas and self-help tools for professional and personal growth.”
Her vision continues to resonate throughout the issues of RDH currently published.
Craig Dickson, the publisher of RDH, said, “As the first editor of RDH, Irene was instrumental in changing the landscape of dental hygiene. She empowered dental hygienists to examine the health-care settings and think of better solutions to providing care to Americans. We were all touched by her vision, and the staff at RDH remains grateful for her many contributions.”
An obituary released by the family states:
Irene Rita Woodall (April 15, 1946 – April 22, 2015)
Irene Woodall passed away peacefully on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 in Chicago, IL. She is survived by two daughters Charlotte Resek and Amanda Woodall, son-in-law James Resek, and three wonderful grandchildren, Evan, Linus, and Dean Resek. Brothers Richard and William Zimmerman, and sister-in-law Lori Zimmerman. Irene was an educator and an innovator in the field of dental hygiene, author of dental hygiene textbooks and the founding editor of RDH Magazine. She was an inspiration and loved by all who knew her.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, April 26 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Cooney Funeral Home 3918 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL 60618.
In lieu of flowers please make contributions to the ADHA Institute for Oral Health Irene Woodall Scholarship Fund.
JoAnn Gurenlian, a current columnist with RDH, said she had kept in touch with the family. She wrote RDH on April 22, saying, “Irene had been in a long-term care facility for quite some time, but took a turn for the worse this past autumn. Irene was with her daughters today and left the world knowing she was very much loved.”
Woodall was the editor of RDH until Jan. 1, 1993, when she became permanently affected by an illness.
Other links to articles about Woodall
- Read Irene Woodall's column from November 1989
- Read Irene Woodall's column from February 1991
- View other quotes from her work for RDH
- Maria Perno Goldie’s tribute to Irene Woodall
The American Dental Hygienists’ Association also noted Woodall’s passing in a statement, saying the association’s members “mourn the loss of dental hygiene educator, author, editor — and true pioneer — Irene Woodall, PhD. The effect that Irene has had on the profession and those practicing it each day is indelible, and her lasting influence on dental hygiene will never be forgotten. The ADHA offers its sincerest condolences to her family and friends.”
In the ADHA statement, Kelli Swanson Jaecks, MA, RDH, the current president, said, “Irene Woodall personified what the profession of dental hygiene is to countless dental hygienists across the country and around the world. Her devotion to dental hygiene was an inspiration to all involved in the profession, and Irene’s insight and dedication was a driving force in the development and transformation of dental hygiene. She challenged us to look beyond where we were and asked us to explore where we could go, both as individuals and oral care providers.”
Ann Battrell, MSDH, the association’s executive director, added, “Irene was an inspiration to generations of dental hygienists across the United States. Her passion and vision for what the profession of dental hygiene could become was a driving force in its change and growth. Through Irene’s wit, charm and beautiful smile, she engaged all of us to pursue our goals and dreams.”
During her career, Woodall also served as dental hygiene program director at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and the University of Pennsylvania.
The ADHA set up a location on its website for contributions to the ADHA Institute for Oral Health Irene Woodall Graduate Scholarship Fund.