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Lisa K. Cummins, a dentist who at 15 was picked to become a fashion model, dies at 57

Lisa K. Cummins was picked out of a crowd by a famous photographer to become a fashion model. She went on to become a dentist based in Bala Cynwyd.

Lisa K. Cummins
Lisa K. CumminsRead moreFrancesco Scavullo photo (Custom credit)

Many a young girl dreams of being picked out of a crowd to become a fashion model. Lisa Kristine Cummins actually was.

The life of the Springfield, Delaware County, native took a fantasy turn at age 15, when she was discovered by fashion and celebrity photographer Francesco Scavullo while shopping with her parents in New York.

His photographs of her appeared three times on the cover of Cosmopolitan and were featured in his 1982 book, Scavullo Women, published by Harper & Row. She began a career as a fashion model represented by the famous Ford Agency.

“Her photos taken by Scavullo and other top fashion photographers are admired to this day,” her brother, J.P. Cummins, said in a tribute.

Dr. Cummins, 57, of Haverford, Lower Merion, who had a second career as a restoration dentist in Montgomery County, died Monday, Nov. 30, of complications from cardiac arrest at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. She had been staying with a friend in South Jersey.

Born in Killeen, Texas, to Hanny Bijlaard “Louise” and Peter R. Cummins, she with her parents moved to Springfield shortly after she was born, when her father was accepted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School to pursue an M.B.A. She attended Springfield public schools and excelled at her studies, the family said.

Dr. Cummins was always interested in higher education. She graduated from Gettysburg College and earned a degree in dental medicine from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed additional studies at Temple University to qualify as a prosthodontist, a specialist who has received extensive training in tooth replacement and restoration.

Her specialty was dental implants. “Lisa always had interest in making others feel good about themselves, and was sought out to work on dental cases for many Miss World, Miss America, and Miss Universe pageant contestants,” her brother said.

In November 1990, she filled some embarrassing gaps and fixed deformities in the teeth of Miss USSR Maria Kevha. “She had a baby tooth on one side of her two front teeth,” Dr. Cummins told The Inquirer then. “She couldn’t have gotten this done in the Soviet Union. They don’t have the equipment, the technology.”

Dr. Cummins worked in a solo practice from an office in Bala Cynwyd.

“Once upon a time, when she got started, there weren’t lots of folks doing that kind of work, and it was very unusual for a woman,” her brother said.

She was a stickler for proper brushing and flossing to maintain healthy teeth and gums, according to an online biography.

Outside the office, she was an avid film buff and a Broadway fan, enjoying musical performances of many types. She kept up with fashion and pop culture, delighting her family with references to the latest fads. She also enjoyed spending time at the Jersey Shore.

In addition to her brother, a financial adviser, Dr. Cummins is survived by nieces and nephews, on whom she doted.

Dr. Cummins’ parents are buried at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Wayne. She will be laid to rest beside them once the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

Memorial donations may be made to Laurel House, P.O. Box 764, Norristown, Pa. 19404, or via