Paul H. Getto, D.D.S.

Paul Henry Getto, D.D.S., 94, passed away at home December 21, 2011 surrounded by family. Funeral services will be 10:00 a.m., Saturday, December 24, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1011 Vermont Street, Lawrence. A reception at the church will immediately follow the service.

Paul was born October 1, 1917 in Jeannette, Pennsylvania to Michael and Ernesta Getto, who were originally from the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The youngest of six surviving children, Paul graduated from Jeannette High School and then followed his older brothers, Mike Getto, a KU assistant football coach (1929-1939 and 1947-1950) and All-American tackle at the University of Pittsburgh (1928), and Ernest J. Getto, M.D., a graduate of KU Medical School, to Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas. Paul’s professors at KU included Dr. James A. Naismith, inventor of the sport of basketball and founder of the KU basketball program. After KU, Paul attended the University of Kansas City School of Dentistry (now UMKC Dental School), graduating in 1942.

During college, he met his future wife, Winnifred Hagberg, while both worked at the Eldridge Hotel in Lawrence. Paul and Winnie were married October 10, 1942 in Montgomery, Alabama, where Paul served four years in the U.S. Army Air Force Dental Corps. This fall Paul and Winnie celebrated their sixty-ninth wedding anniversary.

Following his military service, Paul and Winnie lived two years in DuBois, Pennsylvania while Paul practiced dentistry. In 1948, they returned to Lawrence where Paul continued to practice dentistry and oral surgery for 38 years until his retirement in 1986. During retirement, Paul was active in volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Douglas County Senior Services (which honored him with the Jim Seaver Award in 2008), the Lawrence Visitor’s Center and other organizations. He was a member of the American Dental Association, the Kansas State Dental Association, the Douglas County Dental Society, and the Lawrence Rotary Club.

Paul was a wonderful, cheerful man, loved and admired by all who knew him. Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his brothers Anthony Getto, Dominic Getto, Mike Getto, Ernest J. Getto, M.D. and his sister Anna Wilps. Paul is survived by his wife of 69 years, Winnie Getto; his son Paul, and wife Kathy, of Topeka, Ks; his son Charles, and wife Carol, of Lenexa, Ks; his daughter Jane Getto Allen, and husband Stephen, of Lawrence; and seven grandchildren. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be sent to Trinity Episcopal Church, Lawrence Memorial Hospital or Douglas County Visiting Nurses.

Messages & Condolences

From Mary Catherine Getto...

Dr. Paul was always kind and gentle to me and my daughters. He was a good man and a wonderful role model to all who knew him.

From Paul R. Getto...

Paul Henry Getto
By Paul Rudolph Getto:

It is an honor to share a few thoughts on behalf of our family. Dad was a humble man and I suspect, in some ways might be embarrassed by this somber event and all the attention paid to his passing. His final year or two were difficult, but manageable until the last few weeks. The progression of his disease focused our family, gave us the chance to encourage his love of stories and opened him up to telling them all over again. It was wonderful to watch him recount his charmed and miraculous life, and to spend special time with him as he contemplated this sad and inevitable day.\
Our father represents an entire generation of service. Like millions after the war, Dad spent decades of a long and distinguished life serving country, church, family, Lawrence and the dental profession. His legacy lives on and will influence Lawrence for many years. Our parents taught us to volunteer time to our communities; Jane, Charles and I and the grandchildren have continued Dad’s tradition of service.
I have worked more than 20 years with school boards and often tell them public schools are here for kids who chose the wrong parents. Jane, Charles and I never take a breath without knowing how lucky we are to have chosen Paul and Winnie for our parents. Lawrence is lucky Mom and Dad met at the Eldridge Hotel. If the world were populated solely with people like our parents, it would, indeed, be a much better place. As our Italian ancestors say, “Mille grazie,” a thousand thanks, Dr. Paul, Dad, Mi Papa. And, on behalf of my siblings and our mother, bless you for putting up with us all these years and for sticking around so long. Few children are blessed with parents who live past 90 and we appreciate you hanging on one evening so we could hear about your childhood friend PeePee Nose one more time. Rest in peace and we shall never forget you. Here is one of my favorite poems in Dad’s honor:

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night — by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dedicated to the late, Great, Gertrude Ruttan, who taught me to walk like a man,
made me an English teacher and a poet.


From Jennifer Meuffel...

My Godfather was a very kind and loving man who will be greatly missed.

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