Legendary Atlanta Dentist Always Good as Gold
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Legendary Atlanta Dentist Always Good as Gold

Dentist-to-the-stars Ronald Goldstein reflects on his life, his art and his house.

Marcia Caller Jaffe

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Ron and Judy Goldstein relax in the art studio/sunroom with treasured pups Kirby, a puggle, Carly, a rescue of unknown lineage, and Ella (Judy’s name for her) or Della (Ron’s name), a Doberman rescue. (Photo by Duane Stork)
Ron and Judy Goldstein relax in the art studio/sunroom with treasured pups Kirby, a puggle, Carly, a rescue of unknown lineage, and Ella (Judy’s name for her) or Della (Ron’s name), a Doberman rescue. (Photo by Duane Stork)

The Goldstein dental hegemony finds Ronald Goldstein in the middle of the generations.

He took the baton from father Irving Goldstein and ran with it to become co-founder of the American and international academies of esthetic dentistry. He is also referred to as the father of modern cosmetic dentistry.

An octogenarian with a steady hand and artistic eye, the much-published Goldstein has announced his retirement from speaking engagements, which required 80-hour workweeks.

Meanwhile, he’s as busy and motivated as ever — writing, painting and working to improve people’s dental health and appearance, as well as working out in the gym and spa adjoining his master bedroom.

Join wife Judy and Ron on a tour of their sprawling Sandy Springs home alongside their three endearing dogs and a rocking chair from the original Georgian Terrace porch.

The chandelier in the great room was Ron Goldstein’s mother’s from about 1940. The foliage oil on the left is by Patty Hansen. The oil to the right is Titian-esque, alongside art glass and a silver tea pot wedding gift. (Photo by Duane Stork)

Jaffe: How would you describe your home’s style?
Ron: The house was built in 1962 by Bob Hodges and designed by architects Jay Goldberg and, later, Bill Harrison. Since then, we’ve had six additions. … A more modern, screened porch and my art studio sunroom expansion (with ultrahigh ceilings), which incorporated the original stone. Mike Clagett did the last expansion.
That’s the serious response. The real answer is: We can’t agree on the style. Judy likes French provincial, and I lean toward modern décor. Judy has a penchant for rabbit art, which you see hopping around (laughing).

Patient Phyllis Diller made this self-portrait for the Goldsteins, which hangs near the manual drill used by Ron’s father, dentist Irving Goldstein. (Photo by Duane Stork)

Jaffe: Throughout decades of dental practice, you’ve collected some very eclectic things.
Ron: We have a huge self-portrait painting done for me by patient Phyllis Diller, an Andy Warhol print depicting Apollonia, the goddess of dentistry, and memorabilia from Erma Bombeck. With over 100 Coca-Cola artifacts, I have donated most of that to the Ronald E. Goldstein Learning Center at the University of Georgia dental school in Augusta. We have the British Coke bottle from the wedding of Charles and Diana, for example.
I do treasure the old-fashioned drill that my father, Irving, used in his office. Once when the power went out, I had to actually use it.

Jaffe: Someone once described the ideal dentist as a cross between a plumber and artist. How do you envision yourself in the art world?

Atlanta artist Paul Chelko did two pieces for the Goldsteins, including “There’s Nothing Personal About Peace … It Takes Two of Us” from 1998. (Photo by Duane Stork)

Ron: I started painting 50 years ago but had to stop because of my busy lecture schedule and restarted it when I had much more time at home. I was first inspired by Comer Jennings and classes I took at the High Museum of Art. I use oils to express a variety of subjects. Note that my paintings have a blue dot … not necessarily a signature. I like color and nature. I painted two of our dogs from a photo while we were on a cruise. Judy was very touched with the likeness and emotion in it.

Jaffe: Who are some of the artists you collect?
Judy: We were very close to local artist Paul Chelko and have several of his pieces. Also, a colorful Puerto Rican artist, Roberto Moya (who is in many hotels, museums and private residences), and Comer Jennings, who was a well-known Atlanta portrait artist.
Alongside the swimming pool, we commissioned sculptress Marci Weisgold to create life-sized versions of our first two granddaughters. She measured each one of them down to the finger bones. We also collect Lalique, Daum and art glass, most of which is on display at Ron’s dental office.

Puerto Rican artist Roberto Moya caught the Goldsteins’ interest during one of their frequent visits to Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Duane Stork)

Jaffe: Judy, you have a reputation for being quite the hostess in this kitchen.
Judy: I might have 30 to 40 for Thanksgiving here. My salmon mousse and noodle kugel were featured in the “Neiman Marcus Cookbook.” My other specialties are veal marsala with mushrooms and shortbread cookies. Between our two families (the Mendels and Goldsteins), we may have more than 250 for family reunions at different locations.
We do like to eat out — Bones, Ray’s on the River and all Buckhead Life restaurants are our favorites.

Jaffe: I think that’s the biggest television set I have ever seen.
Judy: It’s 85 inches by 110 inches, and we enjoy spending our weekends watching movies.

Ron Goldstein works long hours in his lower-level office, which includes a boardroom, movable library, photography studio and organized stacks of his ongoing projects. (Photo by Duane Stork)

Jaffe: Your lower-level office is expansive, technical and astounding.
Ron: A lot goes on down here. I have a videoconference boardroom, photography studio and a movable library for the books I have published, plus a large collection of books on beauty in addition to dental reference material. My consumer book “Change Your Smile” is in 12 translations and the best-selling book ever in the history of dentistry.
The main room where much happens is an area with three horizontal tables with separate, organized stacks of the 30 to 40 projects I am working on concurrently. Note in the conference room, I strive for fairness. Thus, the two opposing portraits: Grant and Sherman.
I am very proud of mentoring dental students, especially Japanese dentists, because all of my books have been translated into Japanese, plus always staying ahead of the curve in my field.

The Goldsteins commissioned Marci Weisgold to create life-size bronzes of their first two granddaughters playing poolside. (Photo by Duane Stork)

Jaffe: Describe your children’s wing.
Judy: Can you believe we reared four children off this hallway in three bedrooms with one bathroom? Along with cats, dogs, hamsters and gerbils, who might still be reproducing in our walls.

Jaffe: They seemed to turn out OK. What’s your secret recipe for raising such a successful brood?
Ron: We are fortunate to have three dentists, Drs. Cary and Ken Goldstein and Dr. Cathy Schwartz, and one medical doctor, Dr. Rick Goldstein. I never suggested that any one of them choose a specific career. As a matter of fact, I did the opposite by begging someone to be an attorney so we could barter services for each other.
Jaffe: With all your critters, you’d do well to have a veterinarian in the family.

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