One of the features of aging past ninety is accumulating many stories to tell. Perhaps fewer are left alive to challenge insignificant details.
There was a hidden side to Bob. He had first run a jewelry shop in Kansas, where he incorporated a drug store. After a time, he went to Optometry School in Chicago, earning his way running a parking garage. He became highly dissatisfied with Optometry and went to Medical School, then took an Opthalmology residency, where he earned his tuition by testifying in court about shady practices of optometry. One of his most famous private pronouncements was that it required more skill to be a watchmaker than an optometrist.
When he was elected President of the American College of Ophthalmology, seven thousand colleagues were in attendance. The former parking attendant left his considerable estate to the University of Kansas.
Although he was an expert trout fisherman (he sometimes caught and returned to the river fifty trout in a day), he spent most of his spare time running. No doubt the specter haunted him that most of his family died young of arteriosclerosis, that for many years nothing could be done about it except exercise, he got to enjoy running. He often ran five miles every morning and twenty-five miles on weekends. I never heard of him winning the Boston marathon, but he ran almost every year and mostly finished toward the head of the line. He was a skilled home carpenter, a pretty good pianist. He was an early adherent of the computer, and it was there he developed professional fame. Specializing in childhood cross-eyedness, naturally, he understood that the several external muscles of the two eyes had to be finely coordinated. As the muscles on one side of the eye contracted, the muscles on the other eye had to relax. It seemed like a perfect situation for the use of computers, although no one could use it for that without an extensive understanding of how it worked. It required extensive coordination of the computer and its operator, and the work had to be done in very close quarters. It also required elaborate coordination of the operator, the computer and its subject. When he died, he still had no partner, and any successor would have to train himself. Philadelphia had quickly become the center of referral for such cases, and after he died, the young surgeons had to train themselves.
Originally published: Thursday, October 11, 2018; most-recently modified: Thursday, May 09, 2019