Fall 2018

Satomi Samantha Yamamoto


Previous Next

Satomi Samantha Yamamoto with her husband, Hideo, and her son, Rei.

Satomi Samantha Yamamoto, DG90, DI93, was a teacher and mentor who inspired Tufts dental students for almost three decades, a comforting clinician and master dentist, and a beloved wife and mother. Yamamoto, an assistant clinical professor in periodontology, died June 12, at age sixty-three.

“Her life was dedicated to acquiring and sharing knowledge, and always doing so in a warm and most caring manner,” said her friend and colleague in the periodontology department, Paul Levi Jr., D66, DG71, at a memorial service held at the dental school in July. “If we were to sum up her life in one word, ‘devotion’ is on the top of the list of accolades.”

Yamamoto was born in Tokyo, and received her first dental degree from Tokyo Dental College in 1979. She began teaching at Tufts in 1990 and was promoted to assistant clinical professor in 1994. “Being an accomplished periodontist, Samantha enjoyed teaching the predoctoral students equally with the postdoctoral students, upholding the Irving Glickman tradition at Tufts to provide periodontal education to all students,” Levi said, referring to the legendary professor who established the foundation for Tufts’ periodontology program. Former students recalled Yamamoto being the spark who led them to pursue the specialty, and as a kind, guiding hand for them as they made their way through a strenuous program.

She and her husband of thirty-seven years, Hideo, lived in Brookline, Massachusetts. Levi recounted how for many years, he and his wife would meet the Yamamotos for breakfast once a month at Zaftig’s restaurant in Coolidge Corner. “This was always the highlight of our weekend and provided us an opportunity to share stories of our lives at work and at our homes, discuss our children, and the latest happenings at Tufts or in our offices,” Levi said. Those breakfasts also led to a fruitful partnership for Levi and Yamamoto teaching continuing education courses in Thailand. “We all carry a bit of her with us every day and in everything that we do, because she gave, and she gave, and she gave,” Levi said.

In addition to her husband, Yamamoto is survived by her son, Rei; her sister, Shinobu Furuyama, and a nephew. Donations in her memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, https://donate3.cancer.org.

Top Stories

The New Face of Dentistry

The School of Dental Medicine is leading the way into a bold, new future for implantology.

Heal the World

A group of committed dentists from the Alpha Omega professional fraternity is helping Holocaust survivors smile again.

Building a Better Binky

How a pediatric dentist and an engineer with the Tufts Gordon Institute are reinventing the pacifier.

The Acid Test

Can a tooth-mounted pH sensor curb an epidemic of tooth decay?

Sleep Apnea Signals

Researchers from the dental and medical schools work together to improve diagnosis and monitoring.

Editor's Picks

The Danger of Fluoride Doubt

A flood of misinformation is undermining a successful public health effort.

Compassion on Two Continents

In Africa, Sister Kay Lawlor, D68, fixed teeth, ran hospitals, and confronted health-care crises. In Massachusetts, she’s giving women who need help a new start.

O Pioneer!

After graduating from Tufts in 1966, Athena Papas passed on the dental school because she didn’t want to be the only woman in her class. She finally joined the school eight years later as an assistant professor, and in the four decades since has secured dozens of grants for groundbreaking research, helped launch countless life-changing medications and mentored generations of colleagues. Today, half of all dental students are women… and Papas seems to be just getting started.