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WFO Salutes Dr. DeKock

For more than 20 years, Dr. William DeKock, a co-founder of the WFO, has contributed greatly to the overall success of the WFO. As the WFO has grown from 69 affiliate organizations to 111, Dr. DeKock has guided the organization along, both as WFO president and, most recently, as WFO secretary-general.

Dr. William DeKock and his wife, Margie, enjoy the Opening Ceremony of the 8th International Orthodontic Congress®.
However, retirement beckons, and, as of Oct. 1, 2015, Dr. DeKock stepped down from his position as the WFO secretary-general, a position he has held since 2000. He and his wife, Margie, are now focusing on moving from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA, to Flagstaff, Arizona, USA, where they can be closer to their daughter and son and their families. Dr. DeKock practiced orthodontics in Cedar Rapids from 1967 to 2002.

In 1995, the idea of creating a new global organization for the specialty of orthodontics became a reality. On May 15, 1995, representatives from 69 organizations in 62 countries convened in San Francisco, California, USA, to become charter members of the WFO. This historic event was held in conjunction with the 95th Annual Session of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and the 4th International Orthodontic Congress® (IOC).

Six years earlier, at the suggestion of the late Dr. John Byrne, the Board of Directors of the Midwestern Society of Orthodontists (MSO), a constituent society of the AAO, first started the discussion of resurrecting the International Orthodontic Congress.  The AAO and the European Orthodontic Society had last held the IOC in 1973 in London.  The MSO eventually submitted to the AAO House of Delegates a resolution that the AAO should designate its 95th Annual Session as the 4th IOC. The MSO recognized that Dr. William DeKock, a fellow MSO member, would be the AAO president during this meeting. The AAO House of Delegates accepted the concept, and the AAO Board of Trustees assigned the responsibility of organizing the 4thIOC to Dr. DeKock. Dr. DeKock appointed Dr. Lee W. Graber as general chairman and Drs. William Thompson and Donald Woodside as program chairmen of the 95th AAO Annual Session. An international advisory committee from four different continents also helped with the planning process.
Dr. DeKock recognized immediately that in order for the 4th IOC to be successful, there had to be an organization in place that would bring together orthodontic societies from around the world. These societies could all eventually participate in the organization and become stakeholders in future IOCs. The envisioned organization would ultimately be the WFO.
Prior to the 4th IOC, Dr. DeKock developed the first draft of the WFO Bylaws, basing them on the strengths of the existing national orthodontic societies and other international dental and medical groups throughout the world. He then contacted orthodontic societies around the world and faxed a copy of the Bylaws to them. He asked the societies to join with the AAO to sign the WFO charter. Following the successful formation of the organization, Dr. DeKock became the first president of the WFO.

“As the WFO’s first president, Dr. DeKock undertook the great responsibility to carefully and efficiently initiate the function of a new organization,” said Dr. Athanasios E. Athanasiou, a WFO past president. “He encountered many challenges and resolved a significant number of problems. I feel that this period was the most important in the WFO’s history since the Federation was establishing itself as the representative of all orthodontic specialists and organizations worldwide.”

Over the past 20 years, the WFO has fostered a new level of recognition for the specialty and orthodontists. All organizations within the WFO have recognized the importance of the orthodontic specialist, and the WFO gives further recognition to that title when orthodontists are accepted as WFO fellows. In addition, the WFO has been consistent in promoting high standards of training and certification for orthodontists by insisting that all WFO affiliates properly recognize those standards. The WFO has also enhanced communication among orthodontic colleagues from across the world through subsequent IOCs, its website, the Journal of the World Federation of Orthodontists and the WFO Gazette.

Dr. DeKock is pleased with the growth of the WFO and hopes the organization continues to expand in the coming years. “I would like to see it expand into areas of the world where orthodontics is beginning to be practiced,” he said. “The WFO needs to expand its reach into areas where it can be helpful to young orthodontists.”

As secretary-general, Dr. DeKock was in charge of the daily operations of the WFO Secretariat and WFO staff. He also traveled extensively on behalf of the WFO, serving as ambassador for the organization. While he will miss meeting orthodontists from other parts of the world, he fully appreciates the friendships he has built, he said.

Dr. William DeKock, center, accepts the William H. DeKock Distinguished Service Award from Dr. Roberto Justus, the 2010-2015 president of the WFO. Dr. David Turpin, left, a member of the 2010-2015 WFO Executive Committee, introduced Dr. DeKock to the 8th IOC Opening Ceremony audience.

In honor of Dr. DeKock’s dedication, the WFO Executive Committee created the William H. DeKock Distinguished Service Award. Dr. David Turpin, a member of the 2010-2015 WFO Executive Committee, and Dr. Roberto Justus, the 2010-2015 president of the WFO, presented this award to Dr. DeKock Sept. 27 during the Opening Ceremony of the 8th IOC. This unique recognition was kept secret from Dr. DeKock until its presentation.  

“During my years as WFO president, I was helped, guided and supported by Dr. DeKock,” Dr. Justus said. “My work within the WFO was greatly facilitated by him. I will be forever grateful to him for his assistance. I would have struggled more than I did to have succeeded in my presidential duties. As WFO president, I always felt that I was taking care of Bill’s baby, the WFO. I take great pride in knowing that it was during my term that the William H. DeKock Distinguished Service Award was created and bestowed to him at the end of both our tenures.

“The friendship and camaraderie that Bill and I forged through our years serving the WFO bonded us since our goals for the WFO were the same. Both of us had the unwavering and full support of our wives, Yolanda and Margie, to such an extent that the four of us have become lifelong friends.”

In addition to maintaining his private practice, Dr. DeKock taught at his alma mater, the University of Iowa, for 38 years, serving 23 years as an adjunct professor in the Department of Orthodontics. He received the University of Iowa Distinguished Achievement Award in 2007. Dr. DeKock, who is board certified, is also a past president of the Midwestern Society of Orthodontists. He was honored in 2005 with the AAO’s highest service recognition, the James E. Brophy Distinguished Service Award.