David Michael Verlinich, 67, died on September 27, 2020 in Clinton Township, Michigan. A gathering to share stories and memories will be held in Alaska next summer.
Dave is survived by his daughters, Emily Jan Verlinich of Rochester, Minnesota and Sophia Hall Verlinich of Boulder, Colorado; his aunt Betty Winning, and cousins.
Dave was born on August 3, 1953 to Mary (Mays) Verlinich and Nickolas Verlinich, Jr. in Detroit, Michigan. He was baptized in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Along with his older sister, Janice, he grew up in Redford, Livonia and Adrian, Michigan.
Dave graduated from Adrian High School and went on to attend Michigan State University, East Lansing, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he earned a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1978. During dental school he was a research assistant to Dr. James E. Harris which included travel to Egypt.
Upon graduation Dave became a Commissioned Dental Officer for the Indian Health Service branch of U.S. Public Health Service. For two years he served the Native American Sioux Tribe in Fort Totten, North Dakota.
In 1980 Dave transferred to the Public Health Service Hospital Dental Clinic in Bethel, Alaska. Initially, as a P.H.S Dental Officer and later employed by the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, he provided dental care and treatment in Bethel and the lower Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, including Nelson Island and Yukon River villages.
As travel by land was not possible, he would fly to each village with mobile dental equipment, set up a portable dental clinic in the school or health clinic, and stay until he provided dental care to every child in the village.
During this time he grew to love Yup’ik people and culture. He was always ready to participate in traditional activities such as salmon fishing, moose hunting and steam baths. He also spearheaded adventurous outdoor trips with cohorts at the dental clinic who became dear friends.
In 1989 Dave entered graduate dental school at West Virginia University, Morgantown. After completing his Masters Degree in Orthodontics, he returned to Alaska and worked as an associate orthodontist for a short time, before purchasing the practice of Dr. Robert Sutherlin in Anchorage. Several years later, he started Eagle River Orthodontics with business partner, Dr. Eldon DeKay, and continued to work between the two practices.
During the eleven years he lived and practiced in the Anchorage area and for the rest of his orthodontic career, Dave continued to travel to rural Alaska each month, to provide orthodontic care to the Yup’ik and Athabaskan people at Yukon-Kuskokwim Corporation in Bethel and Tanana Chiefs Conference in Fairbanks.
Dave was the treating orthodontist with the Cleft Palate Team of dentists and surgeons who provided care to cleft palate patients throughout Alaska. He was also an active member of Roth Williams International Society of Orthodontists and The American Association of Orthodontists.
In 2003, Dave’s career took him to Nizhoni Smiles in Shiprock, New Mexico where he treated Navajo patients from the Four Corners region and in 2009 to Erie, Colorado where he started Erie Orthodontics.
Dave was married to Mary Fransen from 1981-1992. They have a daughter, Emily.
Dave was married to Alison (Hall) Verlinich from 1998-2013. They have a daughter who was born in 2001.
He was preceded in death by his father, Nickolas Verlinich, Jr., his mother, Mary Verlinich, grandparents and many aunts and uncles. He lost his sister, Janice Pryzma, in a 1987 Detroit plane crash.
In late 2009, Dave was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. He resided at Rose Senior Living, Clinton Township, Michigan since 2014. He became the spark of life in this community where he was known for his great stories, love of music, concerts, a nice meal with a good wine and a reminder to all to take care of their teeth! He made an impact with his love, compassion and dry-wit.
He worked hard to battle his disease and unselfishly committed to the MK-8931 extensive drug study at the University of Michigan as a way to help himself and others. During this time his care was thoughtfully and lovingly coordinated by Cindie Szarek, Macomb, Michigan. His family is grateful to her as well as the compassionate caregivers at Rose and Seasons Hospice for making the last part of his journey dignified. True to the spirit of who he was, Dave became a great favourite to all who spent time with him and will be deeply missed.
Dave leaves behind many fellow dentists, assistants and innumerable friends.
He is remembered for his zest for life, an adventurous spirit, kind heart, wonderful sense of humour and, above all, his enduring love for his two daughters.
Memorials may be sent directly to (specify In memory of Dr. David Verlinich):
•Bethel Community Services Foundation
P.O. Box 2189 Bethel, AK 99559
•Seasons Hospice Foundation
27355 John R, Suite 100
Madison Heights MI 48071