From humble beginnings on a Pueblo Tribe (Laguna/Ohkay-Owingeh) reservation in New Mexico, a young, shy boy would mark his path and his passion for serving the underserved by becoming the first American Indian dentist in the nation.
On Nov. 12, ATSU faculty, staff, and guests gathered on the Arizona campus to celebrate and pay tribute to George Blue Spruce Jr., DDS, MPH, assistant dean, American Indian Affairs, A.T. Still University-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health. Dr. Blue Spruce was honored for his lifetime contributions and his encouraging American Indian students to pursue a career in dentistry and oral health as well as other health professions.
The celebration, with Mrs. Patricia Blue Spruce moderating, included a video tribute of Dr. Blue Spruce’s life produced by the Society of American Indian Dentists (founded by Dr. Blue Spruce) and an award presented by Norman Gevitz, PhD, ATSU senior vice president-academic affairs and Gary Cloud, PhD, PhD, MBA, ATSU vice president-strategic university partnerships. Because of Dr. Blue Spruce’s continued commitment to the underserved, goodwill toward minority education programs, and ongoing mentorship of American Indian students, the ATSU Hero Healer Speaker series will now be rededicated in his name as the George Blue Spruce Hero Healer Speaker Series.
“It is an honor to receive this award,” said Dr. Blue Spruce. “I am so proud to be associated with ATSU which has allowed me to continue with the passion I’ve had all my life.”