What do you do after your dental practice burns to the ground and you lose your home in one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history? If you’re Dr. Leonie von Zesch, you do what you do best: simply continue to help people.
Dr. von Zesch was born in Texas in 1882 and graduated as a dental surgeon in 1902 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco.
She was a rarity for the time — a female dentist, and the first woman to be licensed to practice in Alaska. Before moving north and tending to the needs of Alaska’s native peoples in isolated villages, she practiced her dentistry on Army and Navy officers in California.
Throughout her life she made a commitment to treat children and the disadvantaged at the expense of her own financial gain.
Dr. von Zesch is probably most remembered for her heroic efforts in the aftermath of the devastating San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, where she treated patients from a tent at the Presidio.
Later in her life, she established dental health programs for schoolchildren in Alaska. Her life was defined by her capacity for giving and passion for helping those who needed it most.
For more information on this remarkable woman, click here.