Occasionally, an event takes place that makes you think about the essence of who you are and why you do what you do. For many, the passing of W. David Sullins Jr.,O.D., F.A.A.O., was one such event.
Most O.D.s are aware of David's tenure as president of the American Optometric Association and his rise to Admiral in the U.S. Navy. Many can relate a personal story of how "The Admiral" taught and inspired them. I am among those he inspired.
The Admiral was part of the Council on Optometric Education (COE) Site Visit Team, which visited Nova Southeastern University while I was on faculty there. The COE site team's role is to evaluate an institution's program and provide feedback on strengths and "areas of opportunity" or weaknesses. The future of optometry schools and colleges rests in the hands of this organization.
The Admiral's leadership, sensitivity and knowledge were apparent from the moment he arrived on campus. Firm yet fair, he led the groups through discussions, explanations and a powerful review. Everyone sensed his incredible presence and his passion for the profession, especially the students whom he so adamantly supported. I believe I'm a better person for having known The Admiral, and I hope, in some small way, to emulate some of his qualities.
As a new O.D., you're wise to acknowledge not only the true pioneers, but also the individuals who inspire you and make you proud to be an optometrist. W. David Sullins, Jr., F.A.A.O., made me proud to be an optometrist.
Who has inspired you? Let me know. We can help say thanks. Who knows, maybe someday you will be the recipient of the much-deserved accolades bestowed on The Admiral.
We will never forget you, sir!
Howard B. Purcell, O.D., F.A.A.O.
New England College of Optometry '84
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Optometric Management, Issue: April 2005