Professor of Dentistry
UC Los Angeles
Dr. Harold Walter Hargis died in his Los Angeles home on November 17, 2015, at the age of 90. He was an Emeritus Professor, at the UCLA School of Dentistry at the time of his passing. He was noted for his integrity, passion for teaching and refinements of surgical techniques in the field of oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS).
Dr. Hargis earned his B.S. and D.D.S. degrees from Howard University, followed by postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois. He completed an oral surgery residency program at Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver, Colorado.
Dr. Hargis started his career in the U.S. Army at a time when there were very few African-American oral and maxillofacial surgeons. He was assigned to Switzerland to learn surgical techniques that were being developed at the time for repositioning the jaw bones. After mastering these procedures, Dr. Hargis improved on them with modifications to increase safety and efficiency. In fact, he is credited with coining the term that describes this field today - orthognathic surgery.
Dr. Hargis joined the UCLA School of Dentistry faculty in 1972. During his career at UCLA he was Chairman of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Director of the OMS Clinic, and Residency Director of the OMS program. He also served on national committees of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and was an examiner for the American Board of Maxillofacial Surgery. Dr. Hargis retired from UCLA in 1993 but continued to teach dental students as a voluntary faculty member. He insisted that any monies he made through the intramural faculty practice were to be donated to an education fund for OMS residents.
In 2006 the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons honored him with the Daniel M. Laskin Award for Outstanding Predoctoral Educator. The California Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons dedicated the 2009 meeting to him in recognition of "Extraordinary service and contributions to the specialty of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery". The UCLA School of Dentistry named Dr. Hargis Honorary Alumnus of the Year in 2009. In 2010 he received the Faculty Recognition Award in Education from the National Dental Association. Dr. Hargis was preceded in death by his beloved wife Mary Frances Diggs Hargis, and his daughters Carolyn Hargis Hauschildt, and Lisa Andrea Hargis, and his siblings Ruth, Thomas, Ernest, Alese, and William. He is survived by his daughters Cherie Hargis, M.D., and Coletta Hargis, M.D.