Dr. James Loeb Dannenberg, longtime dentist, teacher and mentor


Dr. James Loeb Dannenberg, 96, of Mt. Airy, who practiced dentistry for more than 50 years and taught students at the University of Pennsylvania, died Dec. 17 of natural causes.

Dannenberg, known as “Jimmy,” grew up in Center City. At age 17, he, like others of his generation, went directly to college following high school graduation, attending school for 12 months a year progressing through medical school prerequisites, then proceeding through dental school at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his license to practice dentistry at age 22 after which he served briefly as a dentist in the U.S. Army. 

Dannenberg served patients in his private practice for 50 years, while also devoting time to teach pedodontics in the pedodontics clinic at the University of Pennsylvania. Immediately upon retiring from dentistry, he volunteered full time at the W. B. Saul Agricultural High School where he mentored students and teachers for the next 20 years. 

A perennial lover of nature and the outdoors, Dannenberg attended summer camp in Maine as a child, and as a teen spent a great deal of time on the family’s 10-acre vacation farm in what was then a quite rural Upper Dublin. As an adult he vacationed with his family in the northern Adirondacks, spending as much time as there was daylight, swimming, paddling canoes, fishing, and sailing small boats on Upper Chateaugay Lake. He learned to windsurf in his early 60s, and continued to do so for about 10 years. 

Dannenberg and his family moved into their home in Mt. Airy in 1958 and he continued to reside there until his death. He was an avid gardener and tinkerer, and became competent at fundamental auto and home repair, including basic plumbing, carpentry, and electrical work, long before the existence of big box hardware stores and internet videos made obtaining tools and learning techniques as easy as it is today. 

Dannenberg's love of people, the outdoors, and all living things were evident in every aspect of his life. He was married to his wife Dena for 71 years. 

In addition to his wife, Dannenberg is missed and survived by children Ann, Dara and David; six grandchildren; six great grandchildren and countless far-flung friends. Donations in his honor may be sent to the Student Conservation Association Dannenberg Family Fund at thesca.org/DannenbergFund.