August 29, 2022

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In Memoriam: Mary Akerly

Published on Monday, August 29, 2022

The Medical Center extends its sympathy to the family of a former faculty member in appreciation for the loved one’s contributions to the academic health sciences center.

Mary Akerly

Mary Akerly

Mary Atha Ward Akerly, 89, the second chair of the dental hygiene program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s School of Health Related Professions, died July 20 in Fort Myers, Florida.

A memorial service will be held from 1-2 p.m. Sept. 6 at Saint Hilary's Episcopal Church, 5011 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers.

Akerly joined the School of Health Related Professions staff in 1970, the year the first dental hygiene class enrolled. She became leader of dental hygiene shortly after that time. Dental hygiene was housed in SHRP until 2016, when it moved to the School of Dentistry.

She was married to Dr. Bill Akerly, former chair of the Department of Care Planning and Restorative Sciences at the School of Dentistry.

She retired in 1991 after a career spanning almost 22 years. She and her husband eventually moved to Florida, said Dr. Beckie Barry, professor emeritus of dental hygiene at the SOD.

“She hired me in 1980, and we worked together until she retired,” Barry said.

“She was a great boss. She was fair, and she was a student advocate,” Barry said. “She loved teaching dental hygiene and was actively involved in the classroom the whole time she was chair.

“She and Bill loved to travel, and when they retired, that’s what they did.”

Mary Akerly served as president of the Mississippi Dental Hygienists Association from 1956-57 and again from 1961-63, Barry said.

She is survived by her husband.