Military Wiki
William N. Cogan
Born (1856-05-21)21 May 1856
Died 4 October 1943(1943-10-04) (aged 87)
Place of birth Washington, D.C.
Place of death Bethesda Naval Hospital
Buried at Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Virginia
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 24 October 1912 - 21 May 1926
Rank US Navy O4 infobox.svg Lieutenant Commander
Commands held United States Navy Dental Corps
Spouse(s) Loretta Foster Cogan
Sallie E. Zimmerman
Other work Co-founded Washington Dental College
Dean of the Georgetown University School of Dentistry

William Neal Cogan was a dentist, educator, and a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy from Washington, D.C.. His professional achievements include co-founding the Washington Dental College, being the first dental officer to serve on active duty in the United States Navy, being the first Chief of the United States Navy Dental Corps, and holding the deanship of the Georgetown University School of Dentistry twice.[1]

Early career

William N. Cogan was born in Washington, D.C. on 21 May 1856.[2]Note 1 Before picking up dentistry, he tried his hand at business.[3] He graduated from Columbian University,[4] then co-founded the Washington Dental College in 1897 and served as the dean and treasurer of that school.[5] After the college was acquired by Georgetown University in 1901, he served as the first dean of Georgetown's new dental school.[5]

He was also the president of the District of Columbia Dental Society from 1898 to 1899.[6]

Naval career

President William Howard Taft signed legislation creating the United States Navy Dental Corps on 22 August 1912. Dr. William N. Cogan resigned his deanship at Georgetown, and was appointed to the fledgling corps on 24 October of that year. He became the first active duty dental officer in the United States Navy on the 30th.[7][8]Note 2 Dr. Cogan's first duty station was the Washington, D.C. Naval Dispensary. Along with fellow Dental Corps officer Dr. Emory A. Bryant and Medical Corps officer Lt. Cmdr. Richmond C. Holcomb, Dr. Cogan served on the first examining board to select additional dentists for naval service. From April 1918 to 7 June 1919, he served as the first Chief of the United States Navy Dental Corps.[8]

William Cogan was married to Loretta Foster Cogan, who died February 13, 1917.[9] After her death, he remarried to a Sallie E. Zimmerman of Washington D.C. on November 4, 1922 while he was stationed at Mare Island.[10]

Later career

Dr. William Cogan retired from the Navy on his 70th birthday as a Lieutenant Commander,[11] and was once again appointed as the Dean of the Georgetown University School of Dentistry.[12] In 1927, the Dean Cogan Dental Society was founded and named in his honor.[13] On June 8, 1932, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from Mount St. Mary's College for his role in establishing the Dental Corps of the United States Navy.[12] In May of 1934, then Chief of the Navy Dental Corps Harry E. Harvey presented Dr. Cogan with the keys to the Omicron Kappa Upsilon honors fraternity.[14] He retired from his deanship at Georgetown on his 82nd birthday, May 21, 1938. Between the two periods of deanship, Dr. Cogan had been dean at Georgetown for 25 years.[4]

Willian N. Cogan died on 4 October 1943 at the Bethesda Naval Hospital following a prolonged illness. A memorial service was held at St. Matthew's Cathedral, and he was interred with military honors at the Arlington National Cemetery.[2] His pallbearers included former Chief of the Naval Dental Corps Albert Knox, then current Chief Robert S. Davis, and Spry O. Claytor who would later become the Chief of the Corps.[15]


^Note 1 : The Dental Corps of the United States Navy: A Chronology 1912-1962 records William N. Cogan's birthday as being on the 31st of May.[8] However, earlier sources including articles in The Evening Star, the Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy[11] as well as Dr. Cogan's tombstone[9] record his date of birth as the 21st of May. Some sources dated after the 1962 Chronology include the erroneous birth date.

^Note 2 : William N. Cogan was not the first dental officer to join the United States Navy. Dr. Emory Bryant joined the Naval Reserve one day prior, on October 23rd. When Dr. Cogan joined on the 24th, he too was in a reserve status. However, Dr. Cogan was the first to be ordered to active duty. Before either men entered service as officers, the Navy did employ some dentists as either civilians or enlisted men.

Additional Resources


  1. C. Willard Camalier, Sr., D.D.S. (May 1966). 100 Years of Dental Progress in the Nation's Capital. p. 244. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Dr. William N. Cogan, Georgetown Dental School Founder, Dies". The Evening Star. Washington D.C.. 1943-10-05. p. A12. 
  3. "Dentistry Dean At G. U. Honored". The Sunday Star. Washington D.C.. 1934-02-11. p. A-13. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "G. U. Dental Dean Will Leave Post". The Sunday Star. Washington D.C.. 1938-07-03. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Easby-Smith, James Stanislaus (1907). Georgetown University in the District of Columbia, 1789-1907. Its Founders, Benefactors, Officers, Instructors and Alumni. 1. pp. 410–412. 
  6. "Past Presidents". District of Columbia Dental Society. 
  7. "Historical Notes from Navy Dentistry's First Year". United States Navy. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 The Dental Corps of the United States Navy: A Chronology 1912-1962. US Navy. 1962. pp. 13–14, 19, 25, 129. Retrieved 2021-02-11. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 William N. Cogan's tombstone (tombstone). Arlington National Cemetery. 1943. 
  10. "Personal Matters". Washington, D.C.. November 11, 1922. p. 469. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the Navy of the United States, Including Officers of the Marine Corps. 1940-07-01. pp. 536–537. Retrieved 2021-02-11. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Dr. Cogan Given Degree". August 1932. p. 1486. Digital object identifier:10.14219/jada.archive.1932.0303. 
  13. Keller, Albert W., Jr., ed (1930). Ye Domesday Booke. Georgetown University. pp. 264–265. 
  14. "Dentistry School Head to be Honored". The Evening Star. Washington D.C.. 1934-05-21. p. B-9. 
  15. "Funeral Rites Planned in Arlington Tomorrow For Dr. W. N. Cogan". The Evening Star. Washington D.C.. 1943-10-06. p. A-12. 
Military offices
Preceded by
New Office
Chief, Navy Dental Corps
1918 - 1919
Succeeded by
Harry E. Harvey

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