Eulogy for Dr Neil Timothy Charles Burman

Dr Neil Timothy Charles Burman (DOB: 22/11/1947) was a rare individual blessed with many talents. A playwright, a published writer, a songwriter and performer and an excellent dentist and mentor. His ability to find humour in most things was infectious and combined with his self-deprecating style made him an easily likeable character. His attention to the needs of his patients ensured he had a loyal contingent who followed his practice moves over many years. This speaks volumes not only for his integrity and communication skills but also for the quality of services he provided. His commitment to dentistry as President of the Australian Dental Association in 1984 and his service on many committees and the Council of the Branch were exemplary. In particular his interest in professionalism and ethics was realised in years of unselfish service to the Ethics Committee of the Association. Latterly, his participation as a member of the Dental Board of Western Australia and then as a member and Chair of the local Notifications Committee demonstrated his ongoing commitment to the profession. His innate sense of professionalism and ethics were to be admired, as was his clear head when a solution to difficult matters was required. Through all this Neil never demanded recognition and was content to make his considerable mark behind the scenes; however the high esteem in which he held the Branch was something he held dear. He often spoke of what he believed were declining standards fuelled by crass commercialism and the absolute necessity to hold the interests of the patient paramount. His kindness and understanding were also evident in the philanthropic way he approached the needs of his patients.

His involvement in the regulation of dentistry was also clear evidence of his commitment. It is impossible to separate Neil the dentist from Neil the man because he held fast to the tenant that everyone deserved respect and care, and he applied that principle fearlessly. While Neil may have always lived his life to the fullest we are aware that he had plans to guide dentistry back to the path he saw so clearly and sadly that remains unfulfilled. Many people can recognise a problem and even speak to it, but Neil was one of the few people that would actually take steps to do something about the recognised issue, he was self-motivated and immensely capable, indeed a rare individual.

All of dentistry has been touched by Neil and we are the better for it.

He will be sadly missed but fondly remembered.


Eulogy written by Dr Stuart Gaines CEO Australian Dental Association (WA)