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Anyone who knows Dr. Milton Essig (Class of ’70), knows his attention to detail and his love of dentistry. During his thirty five years as a UAB School of Dentistry faculty member, he trained hundreds of UAB students, and even more through organized dentistry.

For many years, Dr. Essig taught in the pre-clinical prosthodontics program. He directed fixed prosthodontics for the sophomores (now referred to as D2’s). He was also heavily involved in the renovations of the PCD lab, and he also taught the Combined Basic Medical Sciences (CBMS). The CBMS program was an advanced three year dental degree in the 1970s that included the likes of Drs. Bruce Young and Jean O’Neal among many others. Dr. Essig also served as Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs. He retired in 2009 as a full professor in the Department of Restorative Sciences.

Milton Essig with SaxDr. Milton Essig with his saxophoneTeaching dental students was a calling for Essig. “One of my great enjoyments in life has been to see our students graduate and be successful in their own clinical careers. I am so proud now to see them be so successful and to have been a small part of their development,” said Essig. Even though he’s retired from the faculty, he still enjoys coming back to the school occasionally to lead case-based studies for the D2 students. “Our students are very bright. I work with other alumni and retired faculty to help them with their treatment plans and set a course of action,” he said.

Since retiring in 2009, Milton and his wife, Rita, have lived primarily in Orange Beach, although they also maintain a residence in Birmingham. He is still involved with the Alabama Academy of General Dentistry and enjoys visiting with former students at the Alabama AGD meeting, the UASOD Alumni Association’s Alumni Weekend, ALDA’s Gulf Coast meeting, and other organized dentistry functions.

Although dentistry is still a big part of his life, what he’s done in retirement is unique. He is an accomplished alto and tenor saxophonist. Although he’s been playing off and on much of his life, he’s really found a niche in retirement. “Music really is my great love,” he said. “I started out playing Sundays with our church group at the St. Thomas by the Sea Church in Orange Beach. Later on, I auditioned with the Baldwin (County) Pops, and I guess they didn’t think I was terrible, so they let me in, and I have been playing with them the past eight years. We practice every week and we have eleven concerts a year all over Baldwin County, in Fairhope, Gulf Shores, and Daphne just to name a few places.”

He and Rita love living in Orange Beach. She is a realtor and they have both gotten involved with several civic organizations. Milton is a member of two Mardi Gras societies, the Treasures of the Isle and the Marshals of Mardi Gras Crewe. “We love the social aspect, but the Mardi Gras societies do a lot to support several area charitable organizations. They provide assistance to hurricane relief efforts and lend support where it’s needed most. The Essig’s now consider themselves “locals” but the UAB School of Dentistry will always be Milton’s home, and his former students and faculty colleagues hold a special place in his heart. “If there’s one message I could send to my former students, it would be to remain involved in organized dentistry and continuing education. Always seek new knowledge to acquire those skills that will stimulate you and improve your competencies.”