Juliann Bluitt Foster, a Washington-born dentist and Howard University graduate who became the first woman and the first African American to serve as president of the American College of Dentists, died April 17 at her home in Hilton Head, S.C. She was 80.
The cause was heart ailments, said Theresa Gonzales, a friend and the executive director of the American College of Dentists, an honorary association of leaders in dentistry.
Dr. Bluitt Foster, who spent much of her career in Chicago, was the first female president of the Chicago Dental Society and a past chairwoman of dental hygiene and assistant dean at Northwestern University’s dental school.
Juliann Stephanie Bluitt was born June 14, 1938. Her mother was a first-grade teacher in D.C. public schools, and her father was a hospital payroll clerk.
She graduated from Dunbar High School in 1955 and received a bachelor’s degree from Howard in 1958 and a dental degree from Howard in 1962.
After five years with the Chicago Board of Health, she joined the Northwestern faculty in 1967 and remained affiliated with its dental school until it closed in 2001. She retired as a professor emerita.
At Northwestern, she taught courses including introductory dentistry and dental ethics. For 10 years, she was associate dean for admissions and student affairs, and she encouraged and supported an increase in the number of female dental students.
“It was expected that women would not be good in operating a dental practice because they didn’t have business experience,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 1992. “But women have been managing time, money and resources for years.”
She was elected president of the American College of Dentists in 1993 and served one year. For 28 years, until retiring in 2008, she served on the board of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois. She then moved to Hilton Head.
Her first marriage, to Robey McDonald, also a dentist, ended in divorce. Her husband of 41 years, Roscoe C. Foster Jr., an orthodontist, died in 2014. She had no immediate survivors.
Read more Washington Post obituaries