In Memoriam: Earle L. Hunter, O.D., former executive director of the American Optometric Association

Earle L. Hunter, O.D., CAE, former executive director of the American Optometric Association (AOA), passed away on April 27, 2014 in St. Louis. He was 85.

A native of Juneau, Alaska, he attended Oregon State University, graduated from University of Oregon, and served as a medic in Korea from 1951-1953.  He moved to Chicago to attend the Illinois College of Optometry, graduating in 1957.  Upon graduation, he returned to Juneau to practice optometry until he moved to McMinnville, Ore. in 1960.  He opened the McMinnville Vision Clinic, where he practiced optometry there as well as taught optometry at Pacific University in Forest Grove. In 1971, he was named Optometrist of the Year in the state of Oregon.

He served as a member of the AOA Board of Trustees from 1971 to 1974.  In 1975, he moved to St Louis to begin his career with the AOA, culminating as its executive director, a position from which he retired in 1995.

With a background in both private practice and optometric education, Dr. Hunter served as a resource for AOA members in the areas of clinical matters and practice management as the director of the Professional Development Division, which became the Primary Care Division. He also handled interprofessional relations, working with both state optometric associations and the American Optometric Student Association, as well as representing optometry in international circles.

Ronald L. Hopping, O.D., MPH, immediate past president of the AOA, remembered him as a humble man who dedicated his life to the profession.

He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and the American Public Health Association. He also earned the Certified Association Executive certification from the American Society of Association Executives. In addition, he was past president of the St. Louis Society of Association Executives.

Following his retirement from the AOA, he also served as the special assistant to the dean at the University of Missouri St Louis College Optometry. For a number of years after retiring, Dr. Hunter also gave much of his time to the Hunger Ministry at the Church of St. Michael and St. George in St Louis. 

He is survived by his wife, Doreen (Dawson) Hunter. He was a father of three, grandfather of two and great-grandfather of one. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to either the Alzheimer's Foundation or to the University of Missouri St Louis College of Optometry.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, May 3, at 11am at the Church of St Michael and St George in Clayton, Mo.