Gus G. Sotiropoulos, D.D.S., M.S.: 1926-2015

06/15/2015

Not many dental professionals will give a patient chocolate after a difficult visit, but Dr. Gus Sotiropoulos always kept some handy. 

 "He kept it in his drawer and if a patient had a hard visit he would bring them in for a moment and make them feel better," said Ki Beom Kim, D.D.S., Ph.D. "He really cared about the people who came to see him."

Gus Sotiropoulos
Gus G. Sotiropoulos, D.D.S., M.S.

Gus G. Sotiropoulos, D.D.S., M.S., a professor at Saint Louis University for over 60 years, died Friday, June 12, 2015. He was 89.

Sotiropoulos, known to many as "Dr. Gus" received his dental and orthodontic education at Saint Louis University School of Dentistry in 1950 and Orthodontics in 1952.

He practiced orthodontics with his brother, Dr. Peter Sotiropoulos, in Belleville and East St. Louis for 50 years. Peter Sotiropoulos also taught at SLU from 1950 to 2007 and remains professor emeritus at CADE.

They treated hundreds of cleft lip and palate patients and coordinated the care of many of these patients under the auspices of the Illinois and Missouri Crippled Children's Services.

"If Peter was the soul of CADE, Gus was the heart," said Rolf Behrents, D.D.S., Ph.D., director of the orthodontics program at the Center for Advanced Dental Education (CADE). "He was just a wonderful man."

Kim echoed that sentiment.

"He was an icon around CADE," he said. "Patients would come in that he had treated 30 or 40 years ago and still ask to see him."

Dr. Gus joined the faculty of the SLU graduate orthodontic program in 1952. He served as an instructor for more than 60 years and continued to teach four full days a week in the orthodontic clinic and classroom until 2014. For many years, he also served as the clinic director.

"There are 750 alumni or so that learned from Gus," Behrents said.

Dr. Sotiropoulos served the cleft palate teams for both the Saint Louis University Hospital and SSM Cardinal Children's Medical Center in St. Louis. He is a founding member of the Cardinal Glennon cleft palate team, which formed in 1956.

"A leader in the treatment of dental defects related to cleft palate and other craniofacial anomalies, Dr. Gus could relate very quickly not only to the patient but to the family, and when in the clinic, the orthodontic resident who was responsible for the care," said Donald Oliver, D.D.S., M.S. "Here at Saint Louis University where I have been privileged to be a colleague (I was actually a patient in the clinic 1955-57 in his early teaching years) I have come to know the love that he gave everyone around him. His knowledge of the science and art of orthodontics; his mastery of the English language and poetry; and his use of humor were wonderful. He will be missed."

Eustaquio Araujo, D.D.S., clinic director of the CADE orthodontics program, said Sotiropoulos was very important in his decision to return to St. Louis full-time in 2007 after leaving in 2003 to split time between Brazil and St. Louis.

"He was a lot of fun and we both were doing what we loved to do," Araujo said. "He was so concerned about every patient he saw - they were friends to him, not just patients. The heart of CADE will continue to beat, but the soul is now gone without him."

He was preceded in death by his wife, Jane A. Sotiropoulos; his parents, George and Marie Sotiropoulos; and a sister, Bess Querry.

Surviving are his children, Rick (Mary) Sotiropoulos of Belleville, Ill. and Lisa (Dave) Ramage of O'Fallon, Ill.; five grandchildren, Andy, Steven, and Matt Sotiropoulos and Nick and Amanda Ramage; a brother, Dr. Peter (Betty) Sotiropoulos of O'Fallon, Ill. He is survived by nieces, nephews and friends.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Orthodontic Education and Research Foundation at St. Louis University (OERF), 3320 Rutger Street, St. Louis, MO 63104.

Visitation will be held from 4-9 p.m. Monday, June 15, and again from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday, June 16, at Kassly Mortuary, Fairview Heights, Ill. A Prayer service will start at 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 16, at Kassly Mortuary, followed by a procession to Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 405 Huntwood Road, Swansea, Ill.

For more information, see Dr. Sotiropoulos' full obituary here.