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Michele Leonardi Darby, RDH, MS 1949-2015.

The American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) was saddened to learn of the death of Michele Leonardi Darby, RDH, MS, on Feb. 5, 2015, following an extended illness. An educator, academic administrator, author, speaker and role model for generations of dental hygienists, Darby is mourned by family, friends and professional colleagues worldwide.

Darby earned a certificate in dental hygiene from the University of Pittsburgh and Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Columbia University, where she taught for two years before accepting a position as assistant professor at Old Dominion University (ODU) in 1974. In 1982, she became chair of ODU's dental hygiene program, and in 1989, she was promoted to graduate program director and named eminent scholar. She resumed the position of program chair in 2011 and served in that capacity until she retired in 2013.

Darbys professional accomplishments are varied and many. The author of three major textbooks, she served as editor, wrote and reviewed for several professional journals and was a member of advisory groups to Procter & Gamble and Elsevier. A popular speaker before health care audiences, she gave presentations all over the world on oral health issues, notably as part of a delegation to the Peoples Republic of China in 1981.

In 2010, she became the first dental hygienist to receive the prestigious Fulbright scholarship, traveling to Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid, Jordan.

Devoted to the cause of health education worldwide, she and her husband established the Michele L. Darby Global Oral Health Award in 2014 to continue her legacy of excellence in teaching, clinical care and global outreach at ODU.

Darby was recognized with many honors and awards throughout her professional life. Among them were ODU's Rufus Alan Tonelson Distinguished Faculty Award, the Virginia State Council on Higher Education's Outstanding Faculty Award, the ODU College of Health Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award, the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine Distinguished Alumni Award in Dental Hygiene and the Dimensions of Dental Hygiene Esther Wilkins Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011, she received ODU's Shining Star Award for demonstrating evidence of helping students succeed academically, professionally and personally inside and outside the classroom. She is remembered fondly as a mentor to both students and professional colleagues; she gave generously of both time and expertise for their advancement.

Darby is survived by her husband, Dennis; daughter, Devan; and son, Blake.

A celebration of her life will be held at the ODU University Theater on April 25 and will be open to the public.

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Title Annotation:SPECIAL FEATURE
Publication:Access
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2015
Words:417
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