Dr. Joseph Hanscome Stokes, who was one of the first black dentists in Richmond and West County, died peacefully on Saturday, Feb. 13, at age 91.
Stokes was a dentist for more than 50 years, according to his family, and was known by patients and colleagues for his honest, direct nature and professionalism. He was born in Boston and attended Howard University and the Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry. He was also an officer in the U.S. Army and Air Force.
Stokes, survived by his wife of 68 years, Carolyn, was a respected and cherished husband, father, brother and grandfather. He moved with his family from St. Louis to Richmond in 1957 and they were one of the first tenants of Richmond’s new Plaza development. He opened his first practice on 10th Street in Richmond, but before that he was director of Contra Costa County Dental Clinics.
He also helped design and build the first black-owned healthcare complex at 36th Street and Cutting Boulevard in Richmond, along with his friends Jim McMillan (pharmacist) and Dr. Julius Robinson (physician).
After retiring from private practice, Stokes became a staff dentist with Contra Costa County Health Services and also served as a Delta Dental consultant. He was also known for being a car and motorcycle aficionado.
He was a father to Michael, Monica and Craig and grandfather to Scott, Kai, Sy and Lucas.
Services for Stokes are being held Sunday, Feb. 21, at Wilson & Kratzer, 455 24th St. in Richmond, at 2 p.m.