Obituary for Dr. James W. Little , AAOM Diplomate

Dr. James W. Little Passes Away at Age 89

Dr. James W. Little, Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, died on 19 May 2023 in Naples, Florida at the age of 89.

James Little was born on 17 June 1934 in Leeds, North Dakota, and became an academic and athletic standout in basketball and football.  He received his undergraduate degree from Oregon State University in Corvallis and furthered his education by obtaining his Master of Science and Doctor of Medical Dentistry degrees from the University of Oregon.

Captain James W. Little served in the United States Air Force from 1958 to 1960 prior to taking a position at the University of Kentucky, College of Dentistry in Lexington. In 1963, he became a Professor of Oral Diagnosis, Oral Medicine, and Oral Radiology at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, where he remained until 1980. 

After relocating to Minneapolis in 1980, Jim’s unwavering commitment to excellence and education continued with groundbreaking contributions to both research and clinical practice.  He built an exceptional career at both the University of Kentucky and as Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry; he was the Division Director of Oral Medicine, Oral Diagnosis, and Oral Maxillofacial Radiology, where he remained until he retired in 1996. Jim operated Little’s Oral Medicine Consulting in Naples, Florida from 1996 until his death. 

Jim’s exceptional ability to bridge the gap between dentistry and medicine revolutionized interdisciplinary collaboration, fostering a holistic approach that has become the hallmark of Oral Medicine. Jim was a Diplomate and Life Member of the American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM), a  member and Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillo-facial Pathology, and he served AAOM as a distinguished editor of the Journal of Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology for 14 years. He also was a member of the Royal College of Dentistry and many notable honorary dental organizations.

Jim W. Little, with Donald A. Falace, served as the founding author of the textbook, Dental Management Of The Medically Compromised Patient, where he remained active through nine editions.

His tireless advocacy for the integration of medical knowledge within the dental profession advanced patient care and inspired a new generation of oral healthcare professionals. As a highly respected dental educator and contributor to the field of Oral Medicine, Jim was a recipient of awards from The University of Kentucky, The University of Washington, and The University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry in Dunedin New Zealand. He was listed as a noteworthy dental educator by Marquis Who’s Who.

Apart from Jim Little’s enormous contribution to the field of Oral Medicine, Jim will also be remembered by AAOM members for his love of basketball and his prowess on the basketball court. His remarkable skill was on display at many of the annual AAOM conferences, where he tested the skill of many of his younger competitors during recreational events.

Dr. James W. Little was a true luminary in the field of Oral Medicine and left an indelible mark in the dental management of medically complex patients.

Dr. James W. Little is survived by his life partner, Anne H. Langley, his two daughters, Pamela Sue Smith and Wendy Ann Ukena.