In Memoriam: Dr. Samuel Aanestad, Class of 1973

Posted on: Sunday, 05/13/2018

Sam Aanestad

Dr. Samuel Aanestad, oral and maxillofacial surgeon and former state senator, passed away on May 6, 2018, at the age of 71. He graduated from the UCLA School of Dentistry in 1973 and was awarded Alumnus of the Year in 1998.

Aanestad was an active member of the California Dental Association, where he was a member of CDA’s Council on Legislation for ten years, and later Legislative Chair from 1993 to 1996. He was elected to the State Assembly in 1998 and to the State Senate in 2002, where he served until 2010. In Grass Valley, where he lived, he also served as Vice Chair of Surgery at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

Aanestad is remembered as a strong advocate for the dentistry community. “I have known Dr. Aanestad from when we went to dental school together and as colleagues at the CDA”, recalls Dr. Alan Felsenfeld, professor of clinical dentistry in the Section of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. “He was instrumental in helping the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) be accepted in California, which is now the most common pathway for licensure, as well as a champion for the PGY1 licensure. As an individual, he was a straight shooter who told you what he thought and always put what was best for the State of California and our patients first.” Another classmate, Dr. Gary Herman describes him as “a force in supporting dentistry and dentists through the legislative process. In the current world, he and his kind are sorely missed.”

In addition to focusing on dental issues, Aanestad also sought to provide access to healthcare in rural areas, and was a strong supporter of his community. He volunteered his time to coach high school sports teams and broadcast football games on the radio.

The UCLA School of Dentistry sends its sincerest condolences to the Aanestad Family.