EFP secretary general Iain Chapple pays tribute to one of the "giants" of periodontology.
The periodontal world has grieved for the loss of too many periodontal giants in recent years, but there are few whose influence and humanity exceed that of Dr Robert (Bob) Genco, who we were stunned to hear, passed away on March 6, 2019 at the age of 80 years. The reason for our shock was because Bob seemed immortal to us all, a comforting and welcome presence in our lives. He had an internal energy and vitality that belied his years, and it is sadly fitting that Bob passed away early in the morning, at work, and amongst his colleagues and students.
Bob was someone that all of us within the periodontal world revered. He was a brilliant scientist, someone who was at the forefront of injecting scientific enquiry and method into our discipline and thus elevating it to the leading discipline in oral health science. He was a great innovator in so many areas, contributing hugely to the body of science around periodontal risk, and periodontitis as a risk factor for systemic diseases. Bob's work on diabetes and periodontal disease was outstanding and he inspired a generation of clinical scientists through his generous, patient, and caring mentorship. Above many things, Bob was a true gentleman and someone with a passion for his subject and a sense of fun that was infectious.
I will always remember Bob's keynote at the 9th ICPR meeting, Sept 23-26th 1992, Osaka Japan, where he opened his lecture with a very poignant observation "We are at the end of the beginning of research into periodontal diseases". I reminded him about this many times, normally in a bar after a long and stimulating day of science at some conference, where he was frequently alongside his very dear partner Frances. After my first IADR presentation, (a rather poor attempt), he made a point of saying to me as I left the stage that was great, I really enjoyed it"; and that was Bob, he inspired me to continue, just as he inspired so many through his genuine interest in our work and his warmness as a human being.
Bob was a great supporter of the EFP, a regular participant at our Workshops, always injecting wisdom and a sense of balance to our discussions. These two images capture the great man for me, fun loving with his former student Tom VanDyke and with dear Ricardo Teles; and keeping me focused at the 9th EFP(AAP) workshop with another former student Wenche Borgnakke.
Bob Genco's contribution to periodontology worldwide was truly outstanding and we will all miss his wonderful mind, his great humour, his common sense and pragmatism and above all his company and wisdom. Dear Bob, rest in peace.