John Glenn reveals he almost pursued dentistry
Sen. John Glenn, who in 1962 became the first American to orbit the Earth, came close to becoming a dentist.
Sen. Glenn revealed that fact four months before he died in an interview with Dr. Patrick M. Lloyd, dean of Ohio State University College of Dentistry. Dr. Lloyd interviewed the senator and his wife, Annie Glenn, to reflect on the life and career Mrs. Glenn’s father, Dr. Homer W. Castor, a 1919 graduate of OSU’s dental school.
Dr. Castor, a life member of the ADA, received an honorary award at the 1962 ADA annual meeting in Miami for “typifying in deed and spirit the life of leadership and service that every dentist should aspire to live,” according to the ADA 150th anniversary book.
The couple, who grew up together because their families were close friends, shared stories about Dr. Castor and his important role as the only dentist in their their small-town community. Mrs. Glenn said she helped her father sterilize his instruments and developed patients’ dental X-rays.
“I thought I would someday go back and go to dental school,” she said in the video. “But that was at the beginning of the Second World War, and John and I got engaged.”
Sen. Glenn, an astronaut with a decorated military career and who served as Ohio’s U.S. senator from 1974-99, revealed that he almost followed Dr. Castor’s footsteps in practicing dentistry.
After Pearl Harbor, Sen. Glenn dropped out of his junior year in college and went into flight training. Dr. Castor, Sen. Glenn said, had asked him if he would be interested in going to dental school after the war, work with him and gradually take over the practice.
“But I had started flying at that time — fighters — and I’d flown through World War II out in the Pacific, and I loved flying,” Sen. Glenn said. “I guess had I made a different decision I might be an alumnus of the dental school at Ohio State.”
Sen. Glenn died on Dec. 8, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. He was 95 years old.
To view the full interview of Sen. Glenn and Mrs. Glenn, visit dentistry.osu.edu/journal/story/storytelling.