Dugoni alumnus leaves legacy of unwavering loyalty

Frank Brucia

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry’s longest-serving supporter, mentor and friend, alumnus Frank A. Brucia, died May 12 surrounded by family at the age of 106. 

Brucia graduated from the Dugoni School in 1944 when it was originally known as the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He had a successful private practice in San Francisco and prominent leadership roles with the California Dental Association and San Francisco Dental Society. 

He was awarded the Dugoni School Alumni Association’s highest honor—the Medallion of Distinction—in 2000 for his service to the school, community and profession. In 2022, he received the rare Arthur A. Dugoni Lifetime Achievement Award for extraordinary achievement and commitment.

“For more than a century, Dr. Brucia strived to make this world a better place.” - Associate Dean Craig Yarborough

His generosity to the dental school spanned more than five decades and led to the creation of the Brucia Loyalty Society in recognition of his unwavering support. The society honors donors who mark 10 consecutive years of giving to the Dugoni School, with at least $10,000 in lifetime giving.

“Dr. Frank Brucia, known as Papa Frank, was an icon and inspiration to so many,” said Nader Nadershahi, dean of the Dugoni School. “He shared his time, talent and treasure with the Dugoni School and beyond as a leader in the San Francisco Dental Society and California Dental Association. 

“Dr. Brucia is one of our giants who has paved the way and provided shoulders upon which we stand today with a stronger profession. The Dugoni School family shares our deepest sympathies with the Brucia family. I will miss the conversations with my role model and friend,” Nadershahi said.

Frank Brucia

Earlier this year, Brucia recorded a message for Brucia Loyalty Society members, which was shown at the annual alumni association meeting. 

“Thank you for your continued loyalty and affection for our dental school,” Brucia said. “I’ve known six deans and marveled at how we have progressed from that old P&S school back in the 1940s to where we are today.”

His dental career began as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps serving in World War II. He met his future wife, Helen Marie, a dental assistant from North Carolina, during his first stop in Florida before he was eventually sent to Japan.

After the war ended, he and his wife established a private practice in San Francisco’s North Beach. The early years were not easy (his practice earned a meager $6.50 one month in 1946), but it eventually grew into a thriving clinic, now run by his son Jeff.

In addition to his generous donations to the Dugoni School, Brucia was actively involved as a member of the admissions committee for many years and loved interviewing prospective students.

“For more than a century, Dr. Brucia strived to make this world a better place,” said Craig Yarborough, associate dean of institutional advancement and director of the Center for Success. “He was always as interested in you and your family, as you were in him, his family and the life he led. 

“He was a leader in the profession, organized dentistry and his community. Frank’s joie de vivre was contagious to the very end, as were the twinkle in his eye and his engaging smile. Nancy and I are grateful to have had him in our lives for so long,” Yarborogh said. 

Brucia was married to his late wife Helen for 69 years. He leaves behind three children: Kristina Davis, Ric Brucia and Jeff Brucia ’88, also a Dugoni School alumnus, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Condolences may be sent to the family at 2260 Leavenworth Street, San Francisco, CA 94123.

Read more about Brucia in this 2017 article in Contact Point, the Dugoni School’s alumni magazine.