Dr. John B. Spaulding, 98, Decatur, died Sunday at his residence.
Dr. Spaulding was a long-time Decatur dentist practicing for over 40 years and was involved in many local community activities.
Born on March 17, 1920, he was the son of the late Everett A. and Estella (Best) Spaulding, and was married on June 15, 1946 to Winifred L. Black who preceded him in death on March 7, 2011. A native of Gary, Dr. Spaulding was active in many sporting events at Lew Wallace High School from which he graduated and was also active in Boy Scout functions.
He initially attended Purdue University in West Lafayette but then transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington where he majored in chemistry. Following his graduation from Indiana University where he majored in chemistry, he was accepted into both medical and dental school as his initial lifelong desire was to become a surgeon. He was called into service in the Pacific Theatre for World War II before he started that training, however, and when he came home after the war, he changed his mind and entered the Indiana University School of Dentistry.
Dr. Spaulding was involved in many testing programs at the IU Dental School and with his background in chemistry was involved in research that led to the development of Crest toothpaste. That process, led by IU dental professors, came up with a formula for the first time to put stannous fluoride in toothpaste, an effort that was lauded by the American Dental Association for being effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay. Despite numerous efforts by toothpastes companies in the United States, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that an improvement in toothpastes was made from the 1955 version of Crest.
After graduating from the IU School of Dentistry, Dr. Spaulding relocated to Decatur and assumed the practice of the late Dr. Fred Patterson. Several years later, he and Dr. Harold F. Zwick, a local physician-surgeon, joined forces to build the Med-Dent Building at 227 S. Second Street.
Dr. and Mrs. Spaulding were the parents of three children, Dr. Doug (Diane) Spaulding of Indianapolis, Joe (Marsha) Spaulding of Decatur, and the late Rachel Davis of Salem. Other survivors include three grandchildren, John Davis of Colorado, Sara Spaulding of Decatur, and Keoni (Mikayla) Spaulding of Lynn. Five great-grandchildren, Caydyn I. Spaulding, Rylan J. R. Christlieb, Leland E. A. Christlieb, Lincoln Richards, all of Decatur, and Bella M. Spaulding, of Lynn, also survive, while two grandchildren, Hannah and Miles Davis, preceded him in death.
He was the 2000 winner of the Stephen Decatur Award at the Decatur Chamber of Commerce Dinner. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Decatur where he served in various leadership capacities, American Legion Post 43, and he was proud of being a long-time member of the Decatur Library Board, for which he served as president during the time the current Adams Public Library in Decatur was constructed. He was also a former member of the Adams County Board of Health, was a past president of the Decatur Rotary Club, and belonged to the Fort Wayne Stamp Club. When practicing as a dentist, he belonged to the Isaac Knapp Dental Society and the Indiana Dental Association and was a mentor to several students in dental school who later became extremely successful dentists in their own right. He was also a former member of the professional staff of the Adams Memorial Hospital where he often performed dental surgeries.
Dr. Spaulding was happiest when he was at home. He personally cleared a four-acre lot behind his Mercer Avenue home near the St. Mary’s River to develop a large garden and an orchard of numerous fruit trees. He had an old-fashioned apple cider press that produced many gallons of cider over the years and also built a greenhouse on his property to grow plants during the winter months. He was an accomplished woodworker, enjoyed completing winter projects that still remain in use today. He possessed one of the largest commemorative stamp collections in the area and up until the time of his death, he still collected commemorative stamps and did daily Sudoku puzzles.
Although Labrador Retrievers are common pets in the area now, Dr. Spaulding and his wife were among the first in Adams County to obtain one as he became acquainted with them on one of his annual fishing trips to northern Minnesota and Canada. Over the years, Rep, Duke, Spade, Amos, Sambeau, Baby, Jackson, and Emma all spent many happy hours swimming in the St. Mary’s River, chasing rabbits in his orchard, and eating food scraps under the dining room table.
He was a devout Indiana University athletics fan and an even bigger supported of former IU basketball coach Bob Knight. Perhaps one of his biggest disappointments in life was near the end of his dental career when he received two tickets to the last IU basketball of the season that would Ultimately decide the Big Ten championship. The tickets were four rows behind the IU bench and he told virtually every patient about how he was personally going to help Coach Knight with any assistance needed to help the Hoosiers win. Unfortunately, a week prior to the game, he discovered the tickets had been misplaced and despite turning the house upside down looking for the tickets, the tickets were never found. He couldn’t bring himself to watch the game on television, knowing there would be a shot of the IU bench at a critical time and there would be two empty seats there. Somehow, IU still prevailed and won the game.
For the past several years, Dr. Spaulding had the luxury of being able to remain in his Mercer Avenue home despite having limited mobility. His family recognized the love and care of his dedicated home care friend Kelly Ripley that allowed him to stay where he wanted to be the most – at home.
The administrative council of the Presbyterian Church has authorized the recently-closed Presbyterian Church in Decatur to be used as the site of a memorial service for Dr. Spaulding at 11 a.m. Saturday with Pastor Marcia Cline officiating. Per his wishes, Dr. Spaulding’s body was cremated and his ashes will be spread on his family farm in Newton County which had been recognized by the state of Indiana with a Hoosier Homestead Award nearly 20 years ago. Calling at the church will be 30 minutes prior to services and following the services. The American Legion Post 43 Color Guard will be present as well for military honors.
In lieu of flowers, preferred memorials are to the Adams Public Library System, the Salvation Army, Family Life Care, or to the donor’s choice.