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Thomas John Zwemer

March 23, 1925 — October 26, 2019

Thomas John Zwemer

Thomas John Zwemer
Dr. Thomas J. Zwemer passed away on October 26, 2019 after bravely battling cancer. He died peacefully surrounded by members of his family. Dr. Zwemer was born to Mr. John D. Zwemer and Mrs. Ruth C. Zwemer in Mishawaka, Indiana on March 23, 1925.

Dr. Zwemer served as a medic attached to the 40th Infantry Division in World War II. He earned two combat ribbons with 5 battle stars in the liberation of New Guinea and the assault landings on Luzon, Panay, and the Los Negros Islands of the Philippine Chain.
Following the war, Dr. Zwemer entered the College of Dentistry at the University of Illinois. He graduated in 1950 with honors.

In 1950 Dr. Zwemer joined the faculty of the School of Dentistry at Marquette University and two years later returned to Northwestern University Chicago Campus to complete a graduate degree in 1954 in Orthodontics. He then returned to Marquette and established the Department of Oral Rehabilitation designed to treat children with congenital clefts of the lip and palate and also children with cerebral palsy and other handicapping conditions. He served as Chief of Dental Services of Milwaukee Children’s Hospital. In 1958 he accepted an appointment as Chair of the Department of Orthodontics at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. He continued his interest in the treatment of handicapped children. In 1965 he became a diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics. He was also elected to the American College of Dentists.

In 1966 Dr. Zwemer accepted an invitation to assist in founding the School of Dentistry at the Medical College Georgia (MCG) in Augusta, Georgia where he served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Orthodontics. In 1967 he was elected to the International College of Dentists.

In 1983 he accepted an appointment as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Affirmative Action Equal Opportunity Officer of the Medical College of Georgia. In 1992 Dr. Zwemer retired from the Medical College of Georgia as Vice President for Academic Affairs Emeritus and Professor of Orthodontics Emeritus. Upon his retirement from MCG, he served the University System of Georgia for another two years as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs on programmatic issues in the health sciences.

Other highlights of Dr. Zwemer’s career include his election to a three person Crisis Management Task Force formed by the American Association of Dental Schools and the American Dental Association to advise deans of dental schools encountering management problems. He designed and helped establish seven dental hygiene programs in units in the University System of Georgia; he assisted with the recruitment of their faculty and accreditation site visits. He also served on the American Association of Dental Schools Accreditation site visit teams concentrating on Curriculum. He served in a similar capacity as a site visit team member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Dr. Zwemer was a member of the Board of Trustees of Loma Linda University for nine years and a member of the Board of Trustees of Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee for eleven years.

Dr. Zwemer was the editor of four editions of Mosby’s Dental Dictionary and Review as well as contributor to Mosby’s Medical and Nursing Dictionary, and Steman’s Medical Dictionary. He is the author or co-author of over 55 articles published in journals of Orthodontics and Dental Education; and numerous other professional journals. He also published a short autobiography entitled: “Do the Best You Can Sergeant;” it is a collection of short stories of the joys and missteps of a life well lived.

His highest joys were his family and his church. His Bible study classes at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church of Augusta were well attended. He also found much joy in his profession and the successful careers of his students and also his children. The love of his life is he devoted wife of more than 70 years – Mrs. Betty Lucille Johnson of Jamestown, New York.

Dr. Thomas J. Zwemer is survived by his wife Betty Lucille Johnson; two sons, Mr. John Zwemer (Esther) of Brunson, SC, Dr. Stephen Zwemer (Debbie) of Evans, Ga, and a daughter Dr. Carol Campbell (Michael) of Evans, Ga; two sisters, Dr. Elizabeth Larson of Loma Linda, CA and Mrs. Johanna Leanora of Yuciapa, CA; two grandsons, John Thomas Zwemer II and David Zwemer; one granddaughter, Sally Ann Wolf (Jim); one great granddaughter Madison Elizabeth Zwemer, and two great grandsons, Jackson Thomas Zwemer and Timothy Blake Zwemer. Dr. Thomas Zwemer was preceded in death by his brother Dr. Jack Zwemer of Appling, Ga., and his parents.

Family will receive friends on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors. The memorial service will be held on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 at 2:00 pm at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church of Augusta, 2261 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30904, (706-733-2275) with Rev. Matt Rich officiating.

The family of Dr. Thomas John Zwemer wishes to express their sincere gratitude for the loving care provided by the nurses and entire staff at Brandon Wilde Retirement Community and Heartland Hospice Care.

In lieu of flowers the family desires that friends and family make contributions to charities of their choice or to Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church of Augusta.

Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors, 214 Davis Rd., Augusta, GA 30907 (706) 364-8484. Please sign the guestbook at
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Thomas John Zwemer, please visit our flower store.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

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