Robert W. Mendel was born in Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated with a BS in Chemistry from the University of Pittburgh in 1950, graduating from their School of Dentistry in 1952. He served in the U.S. Military as a Lt. Commander, Dental Corps from 1958 to 1968, and opened a private dental practice in Long Beach, CA upon his retirement. In 1971 he was appointed Associate Professor and Acting Chair of the Department of Endodontics at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, and retiring in 1992 as Professor and Chair of that same department. He married Shirley Conley, and they had three children, Joanne, Gary and Karen.