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Dr. Soren E. Sorensen, dental medicine professor Sept. 27, 1917 -- April 21, 2011

Dr. Soren Erik Sorensen, a retired professor in the University at Buffalo's School of Dental Medicine who defied the Nazi occupation of his native Denmark during World War II, died Thursday in ElderWood Health Care at Oakwood, Amherst, where he resided. He was 93.

As a young man, he played the violin and piano in a group that included Borge Rosenbaum, who became a world-famous entertainer after changing his name to Victor Borge, and Dr. Sorensen's cousin Ole Schmidt, later an internationally known conductor.

Dr. Sorensen studied economics in the 1930s and worked for Handelsbanken, or the Danish Bank.

During this period, he wrote an economics textbook and traveled through Germany and Italy, where he saw firsthand the abuses of the Fascists and the Nazis.

Dr. Sorensen narrowly escaped arrest and execution, once for photographing Adolf Hitler in a restaurant and a second time for spitting on the boots of a Gestapo agent.

After his interests changed from economics to medicine and dentistry, he enrolled at the Royal Dental College in Copenhagen.

While Dr. Sorensen was a student there, Denmark was occupied by the Nazis, and he and his future wife, Doris Eriksen, then a university student, actively supported the Danish resistance.

Dr. Sorensen graduated in 1946 at the top of his class and opened a dental practice. He later served as an assistant professor in the Royal Dental College.

He and his family moved in the 1950s to Chicago, where he taught at nearby Northwestern University before moving to Milwaukee to earn a master's degree at Marquette University.

In 1962, he moved to this area to take a position at UB.

Dr. Sorensen served as chairman of the department of dental materials from 1964 to 1988, when he became a professor emeritus. He and his family lived in Snyder and Williamsville.

He was a prolific researcher and educator who published numerous papers and received patents for several of his innovations.

Many were meant to help people in developing countries, including an inexpensive and easy-to-use "rubber glove" for straightening teeth now widely used in the United States.

After his retirement, he continued his research and served on a number of UB committees.

He was a member of the International Association for Dental Research, the Danish Dental Association and the American Dental Association.

Dr. Sorensen also was a member of the Scandinavian Club of Buffalo and Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst.

He and his wife were invited to the White House in 1995 to participate in a special ceremony honoring the Danish resistance.

Doris Sorensen died Oct. 1.

Survivors include a son, Flemming E., and a daughter, Dorrit Vibeke Sorensen.

A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst, 6320 Main St.


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