Biography of Dr. Charles W. Decker
San Francisco, CA Biographies





Dr. Charles William Decker has devoted his time and energy faithfully to the profession of dental surgery for a period covering more than six decades. An earlier biographer said: "He has made an enviable reputation in his profession in San Francisco, and his record has been one of progressive efficiency in every department of his science."

Dr. Decker is a native son of California, born in Sutterville, in Sacramento county, March 31, 1855. His parents were John Jacob and Martha B. (Dornseif) Decker. His father as a boy worked as a clerk in the Astor House at New York, and for the greater part of his life was in the hotel business. He left New Orleans in 1849 bound for California by way of Cape Horn, a six months' journey, and reached Sacramento, January 10, 1850. His mother started from St. Louis in 1852, traveling by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and after a long journey reached Sacramento the same year. She was detained at Panama with the Chagres fever. John J. Decker started the old City Hotel of Sacramento, and left that city in 1858 for San Francisco. He was also in the Fraser River mining district in western Canada for a time.

Charles William Decker attended the public schools at San Francisco, graduating from the Lincoln grammar school in 1869. He left the grammar school one Friday afternoon and the following Monday morning went to work in a dental office, and has been identified with that science and profession ever since. He has now practiced dentistry over sixty years, and is the oldest practitioner in the state of California. For the past half century he has maintained his offices in the Phelan building at 760 Market street. In addition to his early training under the tutelage of the famous Dr. Charles E. Blake, he also attended the Pacific Medical College, now the medical department of Stanford University, and in 1874-75 he graduated with the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery from the College of Physicians and Surgeons. For a time he was lecturer on anesthetics and extraction in the College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Decker for about fifty years has been manufacturing the chemically pure nitrous oxide gas for extracting teeth. He is now the only dentist in the United States who still makes and gives his own manufactured nitrous oxide gas, made daily at his offices.

Dr. Decker was for many years a director of the Building and Loan Association of San Francisco. He served two terms as a member of the board of education of San Francisco. He has refused a great many offers for public honors, and while most of his time has been taken up with his profession, he has served in an unostentatious way the best interests of his community.

Dr. Decker has been the president of the Lincoln Grammar School Association of San Francisco, numbering some four hundred and eighty members. This association has in view the erection of a colossal monument of the revered Abraham Lincoln, costing one hundred thousand dollars. He is a member of the California State Historical Society and the San Francisco Historical Society of the State of California, arid he has also been president of the Palo Alto Humane Society, as well as president of the Palo Alto Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Dr. Decker has also been much interested in civic affairs at Palo Alto, having started the Palo Alto Improvement Club as one of the pioneer civic bodies of the place, and also the Palo Alto Civic League. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, is president of the Masonic Temple Association, and is a stanch republican in politics. He has worked for good government and has been a member of numerous political clubs and societies. At one time Dr. Decker had membership in fifty four clubs, associations, lodges, etc., but he has given up all these memberships except a few. He was one of the founders of the Union League Club of San Francisco, and a member of the celebrated Dirigo Republican Club and founder of the Republican League of State Clubs. He is a past master of Palo Alto Lodge, No. 346, F. & A. M.; past high priest of California Chapter, No. 5, R. A. M.; past commander of Palo Alto Commandery, No. 47, K. T.; past grand president of the Native Sons of the Golden West, 1887; past grand dictator of the Knights of Honor, 1890; and has been a past high official in many other societies. He is a trustee of Palo Alto Lodge, No. 1741, of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

Dr. Decker was married at Oakland, California, to Miss Charlotte Courts, who was born in London, England, and died in 1904. Her father, William Courts, was a native of London and is also deceased. Her relatives were prominent in political and social life and educational affairs in England, one being a professor in Oxford University, another a private secretary to a baroness, and another president of the London Stock Exchange. Dr. Decker has two children. Ethel Martha is the wife of Bart J. Ney, of Vallejo, and has two sons, Charles Thomas Ney and Bart J. Ney, Jr. The son, Charles Mortimer Decker, married Florence Wooster, and has two children, Charles Conkling Decker and Florence I. Decker. He also has been a practicing dentist for the past twenty years.

From:
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931


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