Dr. Walter Warpeha Sr., a prosthodontic dentist, helped thousands of Minnesotans with cleft palates and other facial and head ailments to lead normal lives.
Warpeha, who helped found the cleft-palate clinic, first a part of the Sister Kenny Institute of Rehabilitation, and later a part of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, died Aug. 5 at his Coon Rapids home,
He was 95.
In 1957, Warpeha and others began a group to help cleft-palate patients. The team included such professionals as dentists, surgeons and speech pathologists.
He was instrumental in bringing the disciplines together, said Karlind Moller, a speech pathologist, who from 1977 to 2008 directed what is now the Ralph B. Kersten Cleft Palate Clinic from 1977 to 2008.
"He was interested in one thing primarily, and that was to provide the best possible service to children and adults with cleft lip and palate," said Moller.
Warpeha also served as clinical professor for the dental school from 1973 to 1977.
He was an outstanding dentist and teacher of graduate students, said Dr. Richard Goodkind, of St. Louis Park, a retired School of Dentistry professor.
Warpeha led alumni groups for the dental school, raising funds for the school and students.
"He was very devoted to the dental school," Goodkind said.
Warpeha helped many patients at no charge, said his son, Dr. Walter Warpeha Jr., of New Brighton, a prosthodontist, who practiced with his father for 15 years.
He was the only practicing board-certified prosthodontist in Minnesota until the mid-1960s, said his son. He practiced dentistry in northeast Minneapolis for 47 years.
He helped lead many professional organizations, such as the American Prosthodontic Society, where he was once president. In 1995, he received the Ambert B. Hall Service Award from the dental school.
He graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in 1938, and was a graduate of DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis.
During World War II, he served as a Navy dentist.
His wife of 57 years, Florence, died in 1996.
His daughter, Sister Rosalie Warpeha, a dentist, died in 2006.
In addition to Walter, Jr., he is survived by his second wife, Lucille, of Coon Rapids; his other son, Paul, of Milaca; daughters, Rita, of Silver Spring, Md., and Margaret, of Columbia Heights; sisters, Angie Ripsin, of Minneapolis, Mary Jane Kiner, of San Diego, Calif., Sister Cabrini Warpeha, of Sylvania, Ohio; brother, Dr. Raymond Warpeha, of Oakbrook, Ill., and nine grandchildren.
Mass will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Holy Cross Catholic Church, 1621 University Av. NE., Minneapolis.
Visitation will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., (vigil prayers at 7 p.m.) Monday in Kapala-Glodek Funeral Home, 230 13th Av. NE., Minneapolis, and at 9 a.m. , and Tuesday at the church.