Four Generations of Surgeons

It’s all in the family at Allegheny Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery on Mt. Lebanon Boulevard. This summer, Dr. Scott Hall Godwin joined his uncle, Dr. William James Hall, in the practice—marking four generations of Halls serving the area.

“My mom was a nurse and being so close with my uncle and grandfather, it just felt like a good fit,” Dr. Godwin said.

Dr. Dewitt Hall was the first oral surgeon in the family—in fact, he was the first exodontist in Pittsburgh, where he started the practice in 1918. His first practice was based in Jenkins Arcade, back in the days when everyone would head downtown to see the doctor.

His sons, William E., Robert and James, along with their cousin Richard, all followed in his footsteps. “At one time, there were five Halls practicing oral surgery downtown,” Dr. William James Hall said. “They outgrew themselves, so my father, in about 1945, opened a satellite office in Mt. Lebanon.”

Robert went on to invent a drill that “revolutionized both oral and orthopedic surgery” in the 1960s—named appropriately as “The Hall Drill.”

William James Hall, left, and Scott Godwin represent two of the four generations of oral surgeons at Allegheny Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery on Mt. Lebanon Boulevard.

Dr. William James Hall, a 1976 graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School, was the youngest in the next generation of cousins. While he laughs that as a “rebellious teenager” he wanted nothing to do with oral surgery, he ultimately saw the benefits of the job where you can be your own boss, pick your own hours and make a good living. He joined his father William E. in the practice in 1991, after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine.

His nephew, Dr. Scott Hall Godwin, a 2004 graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School, worked at the practice helping to do whatever was needed during the summer months. He went on to receive his doctorate from Midwestern University in 2015 and joined the practice this past summer.

The practice has grown over the years. Their Mt. Lebanon offices moved from the heart of the community on Washington Road to 305 Mt. Lebanon Boulevard, where they’ve served for several years.

“The joke was that Dattilo’s father would deliver the kids and then I would take out their wisdom teeth,” Dr. William James Hall said.

The practice now has offices at Allegheny General Hospital, where they help run the residency program and teach oral surgery, along with an office in Fox Chapel.

During the pandemic, they continued to practice. For Dr. William James Hall, those months were some of the most fulfilling of his career. “All of the dentists were shut down. Nobody was seeing anybody, so these people would have legitimate tooth aches and nobody would see them…. They would come to us and they would be incredibly grateful. That was incredibly rewarding because I knew that I was helping people.”