Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
February 9, 2009
Dentist served the poor, gave aid to his colleagues
BY LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
INNISFAIL – A local Catholic dentist who died in a swimming accident in India was dedicated to serving the poor abroad and his patients at home.
Dr. Gregory Ritson-Bennett travelled four times to Guatemala to provide free dental care to the poor mountain villagers.
Ritson-Bennett also received the distinguished dental medal of service in 2005 for recognition of outstanding service to both patients and public.
“He was a good guy, he would give you the shirt off his back,” says friend and colleague Dr. Doug Lobb.
The sudden death of the Innisfail dentist means a profound loss to his professional community.
Lobb said his long-time friend also founded a support service that provided psychological counselling for dentists needing help for such matters as addiction problems.
As well as serving on the dental health promotions committee, Ritson–Bennett was also a past president of the central Alberta dental society.
Lobb remembers him as having a great sense of humour and with his six foot seven height, open to ribbing about his stature.
Born in England, Ritson-Bennett spent his childhood in Drumheller and Edmonton. His 11 years of study at the University of Alberta included biochemistry, genetics, education and dentistry.
Ritson-Bennett began his dental practice in Innisfail and treated patients there for 31 years.
He and his wife Virginia have four children — Noel, Rebecca, Timothy and Andrew. A devoted father, he attended their school and sporting events, even coaching the Dolphins Swim team.
Ritson-Bennett’s caring spilled over into the community to the point he received the Citizen of the Year award in 1991.
Some of his activities included membership in the Rotarians, Masonic Lodge and Innisfail Legion.
Family have asked that any memorial tributes be made in his name to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate mission in Chicaman, Guatemala.
He was buried Feb. 4 in Innisfail Cemetery following a funeral at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Red Deer.