Dr. Martin Lewkowicz, of Montclair, died on May 15 after a long, brave battle with kidney disease.
Dr. Lewkowicz and his wife lived in the township for 55 years. He was born in Jerusalem in 1935 after his parents moved there to escape Poland just before World War II. His family moved to Fair Lawn in 1939, where he lived until college.
Dr. Lewkowicz graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to study at the School of Dentistry at Fairleigh Dickinson University, graduating in 1960. He then served as a captain in the United States Air Force for two years, stationed in Salinas, Kan. He was a member of the dental corps and was very proud of his service.
He was known to many generations of Montclair residents for the family dentistry practice he established in town in 1964, where he treated patients for more than 30 years. An early proponent of preventive dentistry, Dr. Lewkowicz was interviewed by The New York Times in 1972 to discuss New Jersey’s plan to introduce fluoride into the drinking water to enhance the community’s dental health.
Expressing support for the plan, he noted that dental health started at home with a vigilant routine of brushing and flossing. He is quoted making a vow that his children, then ages 4 and 7, would go on to graduate high school without any cavities. The family is pleased to report that this prediction held true and, to this day, none of his three daughters has any fillings (and they are well past high school!).
Dr. Lewkowicz was an accomplished dentist. He was a member of the Academy of General Dentistry and served as the founding president of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society for Preventive Dentistry.
Additionally, he was a member of the American Academy of Craniomandibular Disorders, the American Society of Dentistry for Children, the American Dental Association, and the New Jersey Dental Association.
He was also a member of the Essex County Dental Association and Bergen Academy of Dental Practice Administration.
Combining his background in dentistry, his commitment to the prevention of dental disease, and his interest in business, Dr. Lewkowicz and a fellow dentist founded Dental Control Products in 1973 while still practicing dentistry.
The company designed and manufactured dental flosses, toothbrushes, breath sprays, and other consumer dental products. Dental Control Products merged with Ranir Corp. of Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1990 and began operating as Ranir/DCP Corp.
Chief among the successes of the company was a technique developed by Dr. Lewkowicz of wrapping dental floss so it unwound from the center, an innovative method he adapted from the textile industry. According to a 1990 article in the Montclair Times “[h]is ‘cocoon’ of floss unwound easier than spools that unwound from the outside.”
Dr. Lewkowicz’s interests outside his professional career were diverse. In 1978, he and his wife Carol, together with a cohort of close friends, organized B’nai Keshet, a new Reconstructionist congregation offering an alternative for practicing Judaism in Montclair. The congregation began conducting services in the summer of 1978 with approximately 15 member families, and today it is a thriving congregation, home to 275 members.
His hobbies were many. He was an avid sailor and enjoyed many trips to the islands with his friends and family. He loved traveling, museums, reading, computer coding and gaming, and art collecting, as well as stamp and coin collecting, and he took up mosaic tiling later in life. His greatest passion, however, was for his wife, children, and grandchildren.
Dr. Lewkowicz is predeceased by his younger brother, Marc. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Carol; his children, Corinne (and Neil) Zola, Gail Graves, and Debra (and Michael) Margulies, and six grandchildren, Zach, 21, Callie, 19, Willow, 17, David, 15, Ethan, 8, and Spencer, 6.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in Dr. Lewkowicz’s honor to B’nai Keshet Reconstructionist Synagogue, the Montclair Ambulance Unit, or the Montclair Public Library.