Honoring Charlotte Ferris’ dedication to optometry

February 27, 2024
A long-time AOA staffer, Charlotte’s dedication to the association was palpable in everything she did. The AOA sends condolences and thanks to the Ferris family for their years of service.
Charlotte Ferris Memorial Image in Frame

In the nation’s capital, Charlotte Ferris began her career with the AOA. Charlotte became a long-time AOA staffer who supported the organization through years of challenges and opportunities. While at the AOA, she met her husband, David Ferris, O.D.

Charlotte’s dedication to the AOA was palpable in everything she did. The AOA is sad to share that Charlotte Ferris passed away, with her husband Dr. Ferris by her side.

Standing strong in Washington

Optometry is a legislated profession. The decisions made by state and federal lawmakers and agency officials have a direct, and often long-lasting, impact on doctors of optometry and patients. This means the AOA’s team in Washington, D.C., has a unique set of skills.

Designed to sit near the nation’s capital, the AOA Washington staff regularly connect with lawmakers and agency officials who play a key role in determining what care is within optometry’s scope of practice, how patients are able to access needed eye and vision care, and how doctors are reimbursed.

After connecting with Tony Malmar, the Washington office director, by chance, Charlotte jumped right in at the AOA.

From secretary to the Board of Trustees and administrative assistant to the executive director, Charlotte’s 20 years working for the AOA were busy. At the time, the AOA was focused on Medicare and Charlotte was often included in political and policy discussions. Her insights were valuable as she grew in her career advising and consulting with various AOA presidents over the years.

Her passion for promoting doctors of optometry as primary health care providers was evident, and she was referred to as a mentor by many of her colleagues.

Finding love in Washington

Charlotte and Dr. Ferris met through the AOA. Dr. Ferris was politically active in Rhode Island and helped spearhead the first diagnostic pharmaceutical agents (DPA) state legislation in the early ’70s. Grabbing the attention of AOA leadership, Dr. Ferris was appointed to the Federal Relations Committee (FRC) and other taskforces.

Consequently, he was in the Washington office frequently. That’s where he met “CB”—the nickname that Charlotte was known for at the AOA. Looking back, Dr. Ferris recalls former Washington Office Director Richard Averill thinking that would be a good match.

“So, as things went on, our relationship grew as did our love for each other,” says Dr. Ferris. “We were married in Washington, D.C., in 1982 and Dick Averill walked CB down the aisle.”

Their love spanned decades and Charlotte was known to host, entertain and share her love with their friends and family over the years in their home.

The AOA sends condolences and thanks to the Ferris family for their years of service. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the Lupus Foundation of America, or to Faith Baptist Church, Warwick, Rhode Island, in memory of Charlotte. For more information, click here.

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