Dr. Melvin Conn; 1921-2013: WWII vet a dentist in city for decades

Dr. Melvin Conn
Dr. Melvin Conn

Dr. Melvin Conn, a dentist whose care and manner won over generations of patients, died Monday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 92.

He had congestive heart failure, said his daughter, Margo.

He’d been the oldest living member of the Toledo Dental Society, said Dr. Matthew Nakfoor, president of the society.

Dr. Conn of Ottawa Hills established his general dental practice on Sylvania Avenue near Lewis Avenue in West Toledo after returning from Army service during World War II.

“Dentistry was a lot more family oriented, and he would have families, their children, and their children’s children,” his daughter said. “He was a very personable guy. He was friendly and kind.”

He’d even sing to patients — Frank Sinatra songs and the like. “He was good looking, tall, big blue eyes, and a beautiful deep voice,” his daughter said.

“He had a wonderful reputation. I became a dental hygienist, and people would still rave to me about him,” she said.

He moved in the late 1960s to a professional building on Jackman Road that he had constructed in partnership with another dentist. He retired in the late 1980s, and Dr. Timothy Tomase bought the practice

“He was a wonderful man,” Dr. Tomase said. “Everybody spoke highly of him, and he did beautiful, absolutely gorgeous work. It held up.”

In earlier days, Dr. Conn cast his own gold crowns and inlays, Dr. Tomase said.

“You could tell he really cared for his patients,” Dr. Tomase said.

He was born April 17, 1921, to Charlotte and Alexander Conn. He was a graduate of Scott High School. His family owned a downtown clothing store, but inspired by an uncle who was a dentist, Dr. Sam Siegel, he went to the University of Toledo with the aim of entering the profession. He went to dental school at the Ohio State University and then joined the Army as part of a program in which the military paid for the last year of his dental education.

He was stationed in New Orleans. Among his patients were German prisoners of war.

Dr. Conn became a master bridge player and was competitive and intense at the table. He liked to golf and play tennis. For the Sight Center, he read the newspaper over a special radio frequency to vision-impaired people.

During a 1971 oceanside vacation in Mexico, a rogue wave picked up the raft he was on and slammed it down, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, his daughter said. He spent a week in an Acapulco hospital, and his trip home was arranged by then-U.S. Rep. Thomas “Lud” Ashley.

Dr. Conn had water in his lungs and a spinal cord injury, but after an eight-month recovery, he was back at his dental practice.

“It was a miracle,” his daughter said. He had occasional tingling in his fingers and feet afterward, but “he didn’t make too much of it. It never kept him from dentistry and even doing the sports he loved.”

Surviving are his wife, Ann Conn, whom he married June 4, 1944; sons, Jeff, Charles, and Fredric; daughter, Margo Conn; brothers, Lionel and Stanford, and eight grandchildren.

Services will be at 1 p.m. today in The Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim. Arrangements are by the Robert H. Wick/​Wisniewski Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to The Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim, of which he was a past board member; Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.