“Thank you WLU for a great education — for the life-long friends I made there and for my best friend, my wonderful husband!”
When Linda Edwards became a dental hygienist she worked in starched dresses and caps, without surgical gloves or masks, and no ultrasonic instruments. She also stood while working since patient chairs weren’t yet designed to allow hygienists to sit.
Recently Edwards marked her 50th year as a registered dental hygienist — just as WLU gets ready to celebrate its 75th Anniversary of the Sarah Whitaker Glass School of Dental Hygiene.
“I’ve enjoyed my profession and feel blessed to have worked with excellent dentists, staff, faculty and students. I love seeing the results of my work as patients become healthier, smile without being self-conscious and feel at ease through dental education and TLC,” she said.
A native of New Martinsville, W.Va., she began college in 1960 as an elementary education major. Going home on weekends, she spent time with her brother, Dr. Bruce Forbes (also an alum), who had just opened his dental practice. It wasn’t long before she decided to change her major.
She completed her two-year degree in 1963, and her bachelor’s degree in 1964. That included 15 weeks of student teaching at Clay Elementary School, examining children’s mouths by the light of a window!
Since West Virginia didn’t offer employment for a hygienist in the school system at the time, she began clinical practice in Parkersburg till she had a chance to return home and work while preparing to marry her college sweetheart, Dr. David G. Edwards ’64, shown above with Linda.
She and Dave married in 1965 and spent the next eight years at WVU except for a one-year move to Sandusky, Ohio, where he taught at the high school. He finished his dental degree in 1973.
Linda found full time employment with Dr. Louis J. Giuliani. The couple chose to remain in the Mountain State near family and to give back to the state that educated them.
Dr. Edwards has been in practice in Wellsburg for 40 years. He has taught part time at the WVU School of Dentistry and is currently serving a second five-year term on the state Board of Dentistry. Together, this couple continues to offer the best in dental care.
“We built a new office in 1992, which makes going to work a pleasure!” she added.
Linda was an adjunct instructor in the WLU department of dental hygiene for nine years. While teaching, she completed a master’s from WVU in communications. She returned to private practice in 1987 and still works part time. Two other hygienists in the Edwards’ practice also are WLU alums.
Linda and Dave both come from families of dentists. Her brother, Dr. Bruce W. Forbes, practiced for 50 years in New Martinsville, until his untimely death in 2012. His daughter, Dr. Dianne Forbes took over the practice. Dr. Forbes’ grandfather-in-law was also a dentist. Dr. Edwards’ brother, Dr. Richard C. Edwards, spent his career in the U.S. Navy as a periodontist. He has a son who is a dentist, as was his father-in-law who practiced in Wellsburg!
“I think there must be a ‘dental gene’ in our families!” she said.
Nationally, dental hygiene marks its 100th year as a profession in 2013. WLU’s program began in 1938, but might not have made it without the special efforts of President Paul Elbin and Director Roxie Stitzer, according to Edwards.
“When the first class completed their studies, the school had not been accredited and the students were not going to be able to take board exams for licensure so they prevailed upon the accreditation agency to examine the program before making their decision. It was the only program in the country at the time not associated with a school of dentistry,” she said.
“If not for their persistence, the program would probably have ceased,” Edwards said.
“If you like attention to detail, working “up close and personal” with people, and enjoy using your hands and your heart as well as your brain, take a serious look at one of the best programs in the country,” she said. “WLU graduates get good jobs.