Course Work | Victor Lightfoot DDS

Victor Lightfoot DDS

Interview with Dr. Victor Lightfoot

            Dr. Victor Lightfoot was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1925.  He truly enjoyed the childhood, even though he was a only child.  He graduated high school in 1942 and proceeded to attend Howard University for one year before being drafted into the United States army to serve in the Medical Department of the United States Army during the tail portion of World War Two.  He trained as an administrative assistant, and worked in the army hospitals mainly in England and France.  At the time the Army was still segregated, but that did not hinder his experience there that taught him to work hard for anything that he is passionate about.      

            Camp Barkley was where he went for basic training and his tour of duty lasted 27 months.  He was accepted into medical school at the University of Wisconsin, shortly after returning to Howard.  Dr. Lightfoot received his degree from Howard University in 1949.  At the time Wisconsin’s med school did not have any black students attending its medical school.  The Dean of Admissions there spoke to a physics professor at Howard to attempt to recruit a black student.  Dr. Lightfoot was thrilled to be chosen to attend The University of Wisconsin’s Medical School from Howard.  He was accepted to the medical class of 1944 and was the only black student in his class.  One day after about a year in training he went to the Dean of the medical school and announced that he would not be coming back in the fall due to the severe cold weather, and the fact that he could not acclimate to it.

            His father and him drove back to Howard where he wanted to meet with the Dean of the Dental School and enroll in the dental class in the fall.  Dr. Lightfoot recalls being very gifted with his hand and at a young age he would carve soap and create beautiful detailed paintings. Dean Dixon at Howard, who had the flu when his father and him arrived, was willing to talk to them when they went to his house pleading for admission to the dental program.  In the end Dr. Lightfoot was accepted to Howard’s Dental School and graduated at the top of his class receiving the Deans Award upon graduation.  Because of his expertise he was selected to work for a year in an oral surgery clinic, in Freedman’s Hospital.  Dr. Victor Lightfoot practiced for 40 years before retiring (1955-1995).  He spent twenty years in Cleveland, Ohio and another twenty years in New Jersey.  In Cleveland, there was a clinic with two chairs where many of the black patients in the area went to receive dental care.  The main dentist was retiring, and sold his clinic and practice to Dr. Lightfoot where he primarily took care of black patients with an emphasis on oral surgery.  Looking back on his career, he remembers his professor placing a huge clock on a desk in biochemistry and writing on the chalkboard “Procrastination is a thief of time”.  From that day on he became a very committed student, dedicated to producing the best work possible. 

            Although he served in a segregated army corps, Dr. Lightfoot did not experience much racism throughout his life, and preformed dental work on any person who walked into his office.  He believes that he couldn’t practice dentistry today because of computers and patient records are now completely computerized.  Although, he does agree that the way dental care is moving in the right direction in terms of both faster quality of care and full integration.  In life, he is so grateful for marrying my wife, and deciding to go to dental school instead of medical school.  He cites, “God saved me” when referring to medical school.  Today he notices that everything in the medical and dental world completely revolves around insurance and paperwork.  He recalls many of the medical interns becoming completely overloaded especially during the weekends at Freedman’s hospital and the dental students would go over to the emergency room and help out. 


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File Dr. Lightfoot.pptx2.22 MB