Obituary: Professor Howard Tonge

Cecil Howard Tonge, oral anatomist, born Sunderland 16 December 1915, Professor of Oral Anatomy Newcastle upon Tyne University 1964-81 (Emeritus 1981), Dental Postgraduate Sub-Dean 1968-82, President British Dental Association 1981-82, married 1946 Helen Currie, died Newcastle upon Tyne 16 September 1992.

HOWARD TONGE, the former Professor of Oral Anatomy at Newcastle upon Tyne University, was a big man both in stature and in importance.

After he had graduated in medicine and dentistry at Durham University, the subject of anatomy became his major interest. He held successive junior and more senior appointments, before being appointed to the newly established Chair of Oral Anatomy in the Dental School at Newcastle.

Tonge was a gifted teacher who made anatomy a living discipline and he was renowned for his blackboard drawings in multicoloured chalks using both hands simultaneously while speaking at the same time. He was a real member of the university, always willing to offer his many skills widely and outside his faculty; his contributions to various university committees were pertinent, constructive and respected.

Tonge's particular research interest was in cranio-facial embryology - the development of the skull and the facial structures including oral anatomy - in which he became an international authority. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Dental Science (a higher doctorate) in 1959 for his thesis 'The Early Development of Teeth', in which he covered the development of the oral epithelium (the surface layer of tissue), the formation of the tooth germ in respect of the epithelial pattern for individual teeth, and the origin and disposition of the epithelial remnants which occur during development. He published in many prestigious journals including the Journal of Anatomy, British Journal of Nutrition, Journal of Dental Research, Nature, International Dental Journal and the British Dental Journal. His work was authoritative and well written.

Tonge's reputation in research was recognised by his presidency of the British Division of the International Association for Dental Research in 1968, and his dental professional status by his appointment as President of the British Dental Association in 1981.

Howard Tonge was the first Postgraduate Dental Dean in Newcastle and his work initiated a tremendous and beneficial upsurge in postgraduate and continuing education for general dental practitioners. Likewise the development of his full-time postgraduate students gave him much personal pleasure and there are many dental academics in the UK and abroad who have good reason to be grateful for his influence.

He had a deep interest in health care and for many years was a member of the Sunderland Health Authority, being its Vice-Chairman from 1982 until 1987.

Tonge enjoyed his association with the Territorial Army and as a lieutenant-colonel in the RAMC (TA) he commanded the 151(N) Field Ambulance 1954-58. He was an active participant in field exercises and had masterly control and manipulation of tanks. He was an honorary colonel of the Northumbrian Universities OTC (1974-82) and Chairman of the Council of Military Education Committees of the Universities of the UK (1968-82). His extra-curricular interests meant he was well qualified to help undergraduates to add other dimensions to their university education.

History was Tonge's relaxation and hobby. He was fascinated by the effect of disease and disease processes on the decision-making of historical figures like King Henry VIII and the US President Woodrow Wilson, and his lectures on the subject were stimulating and provocative.

Howard Tonge observed and analysed. He was shrewd and canny in the lovable Northumbrian sense. Throughout he maintained an allegiance for, and a love of, the north-east of England where he was born and educated and where he was acknowledged as a man of stature and influence.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company provides global satellite communi...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Ashdown Group: HR Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms