Thank You

Thank YouThank you to the opticians in Alberta who paved the way and helped expand the profession

We would not be where we are today without the hard work of some great opticians and associates.

Through their contributions to the profession, these trailblazers have exemplified the values and vision of the ACAO and its members.

It is an honour to feature these greatly respected opticians and public associates in our Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame

Lisa Bannerman Hall of Fame

Lisa Bannerman 
RO, RCLP – License # 497

Lisa started her optical career first taking microbiology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. She has been a licensed optician in the province of Alberta since 1988, when she received the Cecil Oxenbury award for highest mark on the practical examination for ophthalmic dispensing. Besides a 20 year career spent dispensing optical devices, her local accomplishments include being an active director of the Alberta Opticians Association, a Director/Vice President of the Alberta Contact Lens Dispensers Association, and a member of the NAIT Advisory Board for Optical Programs. In 1992 she worked with a team to develop a “train the trainer” course for NAIT to be used as continuing education for supervisors of optical students.

Lisa accepted a position with the staff of the ACAO in 2014. As a consultant and then Deputy Registrar of the Alberta College and Association of Opticians, Lisa was instrumental in the development of the change project. She has worked toward a scope of practice increase for Alberta opticians, attended meetings with the Dean of NAIT regarding the Optical Sciences Program, needs of employers, and the profession. She also spent time writing and presenting the Code of Conduct 4 Jurisprudence module for all members, implementing a vision screening program and practice review program, and working with the committee for the re-write of our Standards of Practice.

Early on in her career Lisa developed a relationship with Scientist in the classroom as a volunteer for the Alberta Science Network. She helped to develop and presented to students for grade 4 Light and Shadows, and grade 8 Light and Optical Systems. Since 1996 she has spoken to an average of 250 students per year.

Nationally, Lisa has worked hard as a director with NACOR and as a member of the NACOR accreditation team for optician programs in Canada. She has participated as an item writer for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) development of competency Gap Analysis (CGA) questions (2014) and as an interviewer in the Behavior Based Interviewer (BBI) for PLAR candidates (2017). For the OCC Opticians Council of Canada she has worked as a Steering committee member/question writer for the Love Your Eyes Campaign.

These are just a few of the many things that Lisa has accomplished for the profession and for the ACAO.

Lisa Bannerman Hall of Fame

Dr J. Gary Chornell

Dr. J. Gary Chornell is a practicing ophthalmologist who works in St. Albert. His contributions to the profession of opticianry earned him a spot in our Hall of Fame in 2005.

During our early years as an organization, Dr. Chornell was the Executive Director of the Ophthalmological Society of Alberta (OSA). In that role he helped us by reviewing the optician programs being offered by NAIT. His review and endorsement of the Sight Testing program was particularly important for acceptance from others outside of our profession.

Dr. Chornell has long been an ally and friend to opticians, and he regularly employs opticians within his practice.
George Colgan Hall of Fame

George Colgan 
RO, RCLP – License # 184

George first became a member of the Alberta Guild of Ophthalmic Dispensers in 1977, making him the 184th member of the Guild, a license number he has maintained while working as an optician in Alberta for the past 42 years.

During his time as an optician, George has worked in various offices throughout Edmonton. Starting his career at Optical Prescription and subsequently working at Baker Optical, the Royal Alexandra Hospital, and Parker Ford and Mackay. Wherever he worked, George applied his unique combination of patience, ingenuity, and optical knowledge to make sure his patients received the best possible care – feeling reassured when needed and confident in their optical appliances and George’s advice.

A lifelong learner, George has continued to diversify his expertise throughout his career. In 2001, he studied Low Vision with Dr. Tom Porter from the St. Louis Eye Institute, and most recently earned his designation as a Contact Lens Practitioner in 2013 from NAIT. George is also a skilled manual refractor and has worked in the lab cutting and mounting lenses, repairing frames, and modifying devices to best suit their recipients’ needs. He has dispensed eyeglasses, contact lenses, low vision aids, and more.

Just like he is with his patients, George is equally supportive of his colleagues in the optical industry. He was an instructor at NAIT from 1997-2012 teaching many opticians working today. George also participated at NAIT as a member of the Prior Learning Assessment Committee, the Optical Sciences Advisory Board, and as an Exam Supervisor. In 2017, he also assisted in the accreditation of the current refracting course at NAIT.

Beyond his position as an instructor, George is always willing to mentor other opticians when needed. He has tutored countless students, volunteered at the NACOR examination prep classes, and has fielded countless phone calls from other opticians looking for his expertise.

George truly is invested in this profession and in the ACAO’s goal of ensuring the best patient care. He served as a member of the ACAO Board of Directors, and while on the board, George mainly contributed to projects founded in community outreach and building the profession and optician’s reputations in Alberta. He worked on a number of projects including the creation of a Community Vision Screening Program with fellow inductee, Lisa Bannerman. This program was built to increase awareness of our profession and to reach a demographic of patients that had been flagged as commonly overlooked.

George is an invaluable colleague, a thoughtful friend and a great family man. Perhaps the only thing he takes more pride in than his stellar professional record is the family he has built. If you really want to get to know George, ask for his help with a difficult patient or about his wife Diane, daughter Jamie or grandchildren, Taylor and Jayce. He approaches both topics with the same thoughtfulness and careful consideration. and these are the qualities that make George a great optician and a vital member of the optical community in Alberta.

George Colgan Hall of Fame
Daniel Cunningham Hall of Fame

Daniel Cunningham 
RO – License # 315

Daniel Cunningham has been involved in optical industry since 1979. He started teaching at NAIT in 1982, and took a break from 1995 to 2005, during which time he was the chair of the Prior Learning Assessment Committee for the Alberta Opticians Association. This role involved evaluating international candidate’s skill levels and making recommendations for licensure. He also served a year on Council in 2004. Daniel went back to NAIT as an online instructor in 2005, and a lab and classroom instructor in 2006. He won the Instructional Excellence Award in 2010, 2014 and 2015, and was nominated again in 2016.

Daniel’s students described him as “accommodating even when he is out of sight. He responds to online questions quickly and his answers are clear and well-explained.  He makes it easy for us to ask questions and never be shy or afraid.  He is very innovative.  He respects the right of everyone to learn.” They felt that NAIT was lucky to have him as a teacher.

Daniel has pursued a variety of professional experiences that have enhanced his skills, including work at an optical lab, large chain stores, and small independent optical dispensaries; he has also owned and operated his own dispensary. Daniel has been a contributing writer for Optical Prism Magazine. He is passionate about teaching and about the optical industry and brings an invaluable wealth of diverse experience to the NAIT Optical Sciences Program.

Daniel was part of the redevelopment the NAIT Optical Sciences curriculum when the program changed from year-long courses to the semester system. He is described as a great collaborator, who works closely with other instructors to ensure the best outcome for his and all students.

The profession is lucky to have such a skilled practitioner to offer a clear example of professionalism to future members.

Daniel Cunningham Hall of Fame

Anita Deinbeck
RO, RCLP – License # 196

Anita Deinbeck was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014 for her enthusiastic advocacy of education, and her above average expertise. Anita became an optician in 1977, and has worked in all aspects of opticianry, from chain stores, to ophthalmology offices and optometry practices, to her own dispensary and business, For Your Eyes Only, in Sherwood Park.

Anita is known for her love of education. She helped convert the course from the Canadian Guild of Opththalmic Dispensers to NAIT, and participated in the development and writing of curriculum for the Optical Sciences course. She held the role of Program Head at NAIT and helped make policy decisions that resulted in the current course in Alberta. Her love of education extended to a love of teaching and shaping the careers of future opticians, and she has mentored many students over the years.

Anita served on the Board of Directors for the Alberta Contact Lens Dispensers Association (ACLDA), which was an educational branch of the Guild for contact lens practitioners. She has been recognized by her peers and her patients as an exceptionally gifted optician, with specific knowledge that exceeds expectations. Anita has a keen interest in Keratoconus, and her patients value her expertise.

Marian Deptula
RO – License # 175

Marian Deptula was inducted in to the Hall of Fame in 2014, a year before she passed away from a long battle with cancer. Although she stopped practicing as an optician in 2012, Marian’s contributions to the field of opticianry, her pioneering attitude, and her entrepreneurial spirit ensure that her legacy will live on.

Alberta born in 1930, Marian had many jobs before she finally found her calling in opticianry. But in 1971, Marian became interested in optics. In 1972, she began working as an optometric assistant for Dr. Dolman, St. Albert’s only optometrist at the time.

Marian became one of the first female opticians in Alberta in 1977, and her ambition to manage her own practice came to fruition in 1982, when she opened “Optics by Marian” in Village Tree Mall. By 1992, Marian was ready to expand her location, and with an extra 2000 sq feet, her store became the busiest and largest dispensary in St. Albert. The new store got a new name: MD Opticians. Her love of the profession was infectious, and three of her children, Douglas, Trudi, and Deborah joined her business over the years.

In 1995, Marian opened another location, Summit Optical, and in 2002, she sold her Summit location and opened MDO Opticians. Her business savvy and penchant for style led her, along with daughter-in-law Jackie Fox, and Granddaughter Brittany Reinbold, to open “Women with Vision Opticians,” a store exclusively for women’s eyewear. Now, MDO Opticians is a family run business, taken up by her children and grandchildren, who have found their calling in opticianry, too, thanks to Marian.

Rikke Dootjes

Trusted associate Rikke Dootjes was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005. Rikke’s contributions to the field of opticianry have been numerous, and his innovative lens designs have revolutionized comfort for keratoconus patients.

In 1974, along with fellow Hall of Famer, Bill Sturm, Rikke cofounded the Corneal Contact Lens Company. He is currently the President and CEO of what is now called Viscon Contact Lens Manufacturing Ltd. Working with Bill, Rikke developed Mini Scleral Design (MSD) lenses, and established MSD Corp in 2006. MSD lenses fit on the sclera instead of the cornea, providing comfort for eyes with keratoconus and other issues. In 2007, Rikke and Bill received a patent for their design.

Rikke is a researcher and developer, an innovator, and an entrepreneur. His tenacity earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame and in the hearts of many opticians. His impact on the contact lens world has been monumental.

Dr. Alan Dyer

Dr. Alan Dyer was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 for his advocacy for the profession of opticianry and his pioneering work in the field of auto-refraction. After graduating from the University of Glasgow in 1960, Alan pursued his interest in ophthalmology at London University. He moved to Alberta and completed a Fellowship exam in 1966, then traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he became interested in refracting. In the early eighties and for many years after, Dr. Dyer worked in the Medical Center in Downtown Calgary with fellow Hall of Famer, Don Smith. During that time, Dr. Dyer developed a remote, automated refraction protocol that would revolutionize refraction. In the mid 90’s, Alan Dyer launched his new invention: the Eyelogic systems.

Although quiet and reserved where his invention was concerned, Alan was nonetheless a vocal supporter of opticians’ quest to increase scope of practice. He wrote many papers in support of opticians, and offered advice on how to move forward as a profession. His passionate and convincing written work was instrumental in helping Dispensing Opticians finally get the right to perform remote refractions in Alberta. Alan advocated on behalf of opticians and addressed questions and concerns from the Health Professions Advisory Board, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the Alberta Association of Optometrists.

On May 12th, 2014, Alan Dyer passed away after a long battle with cancer. He is remembered as a loving family man, a caring friend, and a brilliant inventor. His contributions to the field of optics were impressive and his impact on opticianry was immeasurable.

Robert Ford
RO – License # 48

Robert Ford was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, and passed away in 2013 at the age of 83. Robert, known as Bob or “Dice,” was born in Saskatchewan to a large family. The youngest of six children, Bob began working at an early age to help support them. His strong work ethic continued into his adult life, and in 1965, he became licensed with the Alberta Guild of Ophthalmic Dispensers. In 1974, he and his colleague Howard Parker founded Parker Ford Optical Ltd. Bob retired from practicing opticianry in 1995.

Bob was an active outdoorsman who loved camping, tending his garden, and playing golf. He also had a keen interest in pottery, and, as an enthusiastic lifelong learner, he took many classes to improve his skills. Bob was known for his generosity, encouragement, and tenacity. He was always willing to try new things, and that attitude paid off for him both in life and in his profession.

Dennis Gartner

Dennis Gartner was the Assistant Deputy Minister of Labour in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Before we were autonomous, we were overseen by Dennis’ department. In 1991 when we became a self-regulating body, Dennis Gartner facilitated an easy transition, during which time we underwent a name change from the Alberta Guild of Ophthalmic Dispensers (AGOOD) to the Alberta Opticians Association (AOA). Dennis helped us develop the Opticians Act, which we used to govern the opticians until 2011, when it was repealed in favour of the Health Professions Act (HPA).

Dennis dedicated himself to broadening his education, and holds Two Masters degrees, one in Social work and one in Business Administration. His help with policy and strategic planning were invaluable to our organization. For his work furthering our profession, Dennis Gartner earned a spot in the Hall of Fame in 2005

Sydney Hall
RO – License # 6

Syd Hall was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 for a lifetime of dedicated optical service. Born in Lethbridge in 1928, Syd was the sixth member of the guild, receiving his license in 1965. However, he started working in the optical industry long before the Alberta Guild of Ophthalmic Dispensers began licensing.

In 1944 at the age of 16, Syd began working at Imperial Optical Company in Lethbridge, learning the materials and tools of the trade, and gaining experience in all phases of lab work. He began fitting glasses in 1946, and artificial eyes in 1955. In 1956, Syd started working at Optical Prescription Company Lethbridge Ltd. After 53 years in the optical industry, during which time Syd impacted patients and opticians alike, Syd Hall retired in 1997.

Udo Hanebaum
RO, RCLP – License # 576

Udo transferred to Alberta from Saskatchewan, and quickly became interested in Contact Lenses. He began to work as a student at Crown Optical, fitting mostly rigid lenses and specializing in fitting babies with contact lenses after cataract surgery. His thirst for knowledge led him to become a research optician for a material and lens developer. After that, he went on to work for an Ophthalmologist doing refractions and identifying pathology.

In 1995, after years of learning all he could, he began teaching contact lens students in Alberta. At NAIT he has been a curriculum developer, exam writer, online instructor, lab instructor, and has held a position on the NAIT Advisory Committee. He has done lectures at NAIT and Waterloo University, training young optometrists to fit keratoconus lenses among other things. His lectures have occurred across Canada, from BC to Newfoundland, as well as many American states.

In his well-rounded career, Udo has worked in chain stores, in optometrists’ offices, in ophthalmology clinics, in research and development and even running his own specialty contact lens practice. He has volunteered in many areas of the Association and the College, including as a mentor to students, as a member of the Hearing tribunal, and as the chair of the Negotiations Committee, working with government on contracts for Opticians. For his contributions to the profession through education and through active participation, Udo has earned a spot in the ACAO Hall of Fame for 2017.

Karl Hauck
RO – License # 7

Karl Hauck was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010 for his active involvement on the Board of Directors and his passion for furthering the education of opticians. Karl became an optician in 1966, a hearing aid practitioner in 1973, and a contact lens practitioner in 1975. He spent more than 2 decades as an independent optician at his business, Hauck Vision + Hearing Center, where he trained and supervised many student opticians. In 2002 Karl retired to Ottawa to pursue his other passion of the arts.

An active and engaged member of the profession, Karl served as Director of the AOA from 1984 to 1986, and again from 1990 to 1996. He sat on the NAIT Advisory Committee from 1987-2002. He was instrumental in the development of the National Examination Committee (NEC), serving as their first Chair. The NEC is the examination arm of NACOR, and this committee developed the exam opticians use today. Karl was also the program head for the NAIT optical programs for many years.

Karl is recognized as a great idea man, who takes the difficult problems that stand in the way of a project and solves them, then steps back and hands over the reins when the project becomes manageable for others to carry out. He led the charge on developing continuing education sight testing, in a quest for increased scope of practice. Karl builds up and encourages new opticians to pursue the expansion of the profession.

Drew Jeffries
RO, RCLP – License # 29

Drew Jeffries was inducted into the hall of fame in 2005 for his ceaseless efforts to improve and expand the profession. Born in 1947, Drew was one of the first fifty opticians to gain licensure in Alberta. He owned and managed more than one optical during his working career, including Save & See Optical from 1971 to 1979, Comfort Contact Lens from 1979 to 1993, and Parker Ford & MacKay Specialty Opticians from 1993 to 2012.

Drew served opticians in many ways. From 1986 to 1988 he was Director of the Alberta Opticians Association, from 1988 to 1991 he was President, and from 1991 to 2004 he served as our Executive Director. From 2004 to 2014, Drew served as a consultant for the College of Opticians of Alberta. He developed and maintained the SQL database we used to keep track of members, and regularly created papers and reports for the college. Outside of the College, Drew was also very busy expanding the profession. In 1990 he was a founding member of the Opticians Association of Canada, and became their first ever Vice President.

Drew is passionate about education. He served on the Ophthalmic Dispenser’s examining board, and was responsible for written and practical licensing examination in Alberta prior to July of 1992. From 1988 to 1991, Drew served on the NAIT advisory committee, and received an honour award in 1989 for the time and expertise he donated to the development of the Optical Sciences program. In 2005 he began working with NAIT to develop practicum manuals, course material, and examinations. He has also been an online instructor for the NAIT optical Sciences program since 2006. From 2008 to 2013, Drew was a Consultant for Competency Gap Analysis development. He participated in developing online prior learning assessment and recognition, as well as grant funding applications.

For these reasons and many more, Drew will be inducted into the National Opticians Hall of Fame in 2017.

Dan Losey
RO, RCLP – License # 112

Dan Losey, like so many great opticians at the time, did his eyeglass training in 1969 with Bob Ford and Howard Parker. He then did his contact lens training in the same building, and in 1974, he joined the newly formed Parker Ford Optical. In 1979, Dan worked for Ron Ingenthorn and Don Smith, and in 1980 he began working as a contact lens practitioner and Crown Optical. He worked there for the next 31 years.

Don is a specialist in rigid contact lenses, and has passed his expertise on to many opticians in the generations following his. Many of his students credit him as the reason they passed the rigid contact lens section of their course. He is known for his patience and kindness, both qualities which make him an excellent teacher for new opticians.

In addition to his dedication to educating the next generation, Dan has performed many other invaluable services on behalf of the College. He has done inspections with the Department of Health as our representative. He was also a member of the Disciplines tribunal for many years. Finally, he has been an active field supervisor for NAIT and has served as a vision screening volunteer for the College. For his long time dedication to the advancement of the field of opticianry, and his diligence in ensuring high standards are met, Dan Losey was inducted into the ACAO Hall of Fame in 2017.

Fred Miller
RO – License # 74

Fred Miller was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009 for his tireless work in furthering the profession, and his exceptional and unique skills fitting prosthetic eyes. Throughout more than 50 years, Fred has been a pioneer in the industry. He has been involved in hearings and appeals, and has played an essential role in training new members in the processes of running the association, to help ensure that integrity will be maintained as programs expanded.

For more than 30 years, Fred Miller has owned his own dispensary, and has said that his favourite part is the “Aha” moment when his patient finally sees clearly. In addition to helping people see, Fred is one of very few Opticians to fit prosthetic eyes, and his interest in this area pushed him to expand his abilities and services further.

A generous and philanthropic man, Fred Miller has volunteered with various organizations, fundraising for his local regional hospital, and for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Working with Heart and Stroke, he raised more than $100,000 over 10 years, and has been one of their top fundraisers.

One of Fred’s big contributions to the profession was his role in persuading the Alberta Government in 1996 to re-evaluate their plan to limit who could assist Canadian Veterans with their optical needs. His tireless persistence, petitioning anyone who would listen, opened the doors for any capable optical to be able to help those patients. Fred Miller’s passion for optics has helped elevate the profession for future generations of opticians.

Judith Muscroft
RO – License # 485

Judi Muscroft was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. She became licensed in 1988, when women were finally emerging in the industry; almost half of her graduating class were women. In her practice, Judi worked mostly with optometrists. Her diplomatic and genial personality helped cement good relationships between the professions.

Judi values her patients, taking the time and effort to meet them in their homes or care facilities if they are unable to leave. She has also gone the extra mile for the College, and has been a strong presence on the Complaints Advisory Committee. Judi always had time to assist in the training of the Complaints Director, sharing her wisdom and experience.

As a strong believer in education, Judi has taken an active role in training the next generation of opticians. She has meticulously trained several students, taking the extra time necessary to ensure they excel. Judi expects her students to be conscientious and careful, as well as masterful in a range of skills, including edging and lensometry. She believes that if she has done her job right her students will know how to adjust a frame correctly the first time. She pushes her students to better themselves, both in the interest of their profession, and in the interest of public health and safety.

Cecil Oxenbury
RO – License # 10

Cecil Oxenbury was posthumously inducted into the Hall of fame in 2005. After serving in WWII, Cecil Oxenbury’s first job was in an optical lab in BC. He later became a sales representative for Kahn Optical in Calgary. In 1952, he established a retail dispensary in Medicine Hat, and over the years, his business expanded to include offices in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and BC.

Cecil was a member of the first executive committee, and was instrumental in setting up licensing in Alberta. After the regulatory body was formed, he continued to serve on the first Board of Directors. He also served on the first examination committee for contact lenses.

Cecil lived a long and full life, and passed away in 1983. Because of his passion for education, his family established and funded scholarships in his name for second year ophthalmic dispensing and second year contact lenses. After more than 30 years, those scholarships are still issued and honoured by the College. Cecil pioneered the profession, and his legacy lives on to inspire future generations to push the boundaries and always seek to improve. To this day, Cecil Oxenbury’s family, spanning 3 generations, is still involved in the optical business.

Bruce Plausteiner
RO, RCLP – License # 99

Bruce Plausteiner was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. Bruce became a student with the Albberta Guild of Ophthalmic Dispensers in 1967. In 1972, he was licensed, and in 1974, he opened his own private practice. Bruce cares deeply for his patients, even volunteering his spare time to visit long-time customers in hospitals and retirement homes to perform adjustments and small repairs.

Always an involved member of the profession, Bruce served on Council from 1986-1998. He also served on the Investigations Committee, and was an active participant in the Alberta Contact Lens Dispenser Association, and the Task Group of Refracting Opticians.

Bruce’s passion for the increased scope of practice for opticians led him to become one of the first refracting opticians; he paved the way, pushed boundaries, and made some waves in his practice in Lethbridge. He has fought for prescription release, writing many letters to the Government, and speaking to anyone who would listen. His tireless effort is inspiring for future generations of opticians to continue advancing the profession.

Don Smith
RO – License # 36

Don Smith was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007 for his dedicated service to the college and association, and his efforts to expand the field of opticianry. Born in 1945, Don began his career working with his father in automotive garages, but he soon found another use for his skilled hands and in 1966, he began training as an optician at Trattner Optical in Calgary. In 1968 he went to work for Cecil Oxenbury at Calgary Optical. He completed his licensing requirements in 1971, and continued working at Calgary optical for 42 years, eventually purchasing the practice.

Don worked in the same building as Dr. Alan Dyer, another inductee into our Hall of Fame. In 1995, Don began sight testing with Dr. Alan Dyer’s equipment; he was the first optician in Alberta to do so. Don has always been an active advocate for independent refracting and prescribing, and in 2003, he visited 15 different MLA’s on behalf of opticians in an attempt to gain support for the change.

Don has held many leadership positions within our organization. He was Vice President of the Alberta Opticians Association in 1997, and President from 1998 to 2004. He has also acted as the Alberta representative to the Opticians Association of Canada. In 2010, he became the Canadian representative to the International Opticians Association. In 2017, Don will join the ranks of opticians in the National Hall of Fame.

Bill Sturm
RO, RCLP – License # 14

Bill Sturm was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, for more than 50 years of outstanding achievement in contact lens design. His optical career began in 1956 when he became an apprentice optician with the Optical Prescription Company in Calgary. In 1964, he began manufacturing contacts for the Plastic Contact Lens Company. At the same time, he served as the Educational Director for the Board of Ophthalmic Dispensers. By 1967, Bill was employing 13 people to manufacture 100 lenses per day, which was no small feat for the time.

In 1974, Bill Sturm and fellow Hall of Fame member, Rikke Dootjes, co-founded the Corneal Contact Lens Company. Over the next few years, Bill concentrated on developing new RGP materials that incorporated silicone acrylate and fluorinated silicone acrylate, better known as the Alberta “N” material.

Through the years, Bill cared for many keratoconus patients, all the while continuing his research and development of contact lenses, specifically mini scleral design (MSD) lenses. He received a patent in 2007 for his mini scleral design, and sold the rights to Blanchard Contact Lens. In total, he has held 3 separate contact lens patents.

A teacher at heart, Bill is always willing to share his knowledge and experience. He has liaised with researchers, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and polymer chemists to improve on Toric and Bitoric design for both soft and rigid lenses. His insights have helped various scientists and researchers, including Bill Hoffman, George Nissel, Gene Hurst, and Dr. G. Hummer from the University of Alabama, to name a few. Bill’s contributions have been significant and far-reaching, and have left an indelible mark on the field of optics.

Jim Thompson
RO – License # 136

Jim Thompson was born in Drumheller in 1951. He began working as an ophthalmic dispenser in 1971, and in 1973, he passed the ophthalmic dispenser’s course. He went on to complete the contact lens course in 1974, and became licensed with the guild in 1975. From 1975 to 1985, Jim worked as a specialty contact lens practitioner at Imperial Optical Company. He then founded Thompson Optics in Edmonton in 1985. Jim has also been a professional advisory consultant for Johnson and Johnson.

Jim’s area of expertise is in specialty contact lenses for keratoconus, post corneal grafts, failed LASIK, and surgically repaired corneas. As someone who has worked closely with contact lens patients, Jim knew what would be safe for them. He pushed for better legislation for contact lenses in the Health Professions Act. He also worked to develop sight testing programs for opticians in the 90’s. Jim has a strong sense of justice, and has spent his career advocating for patients against unfair practices. He has attended board meetings with the government in an attempt to increase opticians’ scope of practice. For his unique perspective and his drive to expand the profession, Jim was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.

Robert Topley
RO – License # 198

Bob Topley was born in 1949, in Red Deer Alberta, and passed away in 1999. He was posthumously inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 for his lifelong contributions to the profession, and his passion for education.

Bob was raised by a single mother after his father passed away in 1952, and he learned the value of hard work and perseverance from her. He began his optical training at Calgary Optical in 1974, and then moved to Braddock Optical, where he worked from 1975 to 1977. In 1978 he became licensed with the Guild, and began working at Calgary Contact Lens Clinic. He worked there until he started his own dispensary, Parkland Optical and Contact Lens Centre, where he continued to work until his unexpected death in 1999.

Bob Topley went the extra mile with patients; he kept notes in his files to remind him about their life events, so that he could make a special connection with each of them on every visit. He had a philanthropic spirit and a big heart, and he fought tirelessly for the little guy. With his fellow opticians and with students, Bob pushed for success. The Bob Topley Memorial Library was created in his honour because of his passion for training students.

In addition to being a Licensing examiner, he was also an active speaker and organizer of events. He also worked with the Contact Lens Society of America and introduced them to opticians in Alberta, orchestrating symposiums and helping make connections. He became an honorary fellow with the CLSA. Beyond his love of opticianry, Bob loved old Volvo cars and golfing. He was instrumental in organizing and perpetuating the AGOOD golf tournament every year.

Janet Vervynck
RO – License # 182

Janet Vervynck was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. Janet became an optician in 1977, and as one of the first female opticians in the province, faced the predominantly male occupation with determination. In the early 80’s, Janet volunteered her time to mark papers for the Guild of Ophthalmic Dispensers’ educational course. In the 80’s and 90’s, she helped the education development team build and refine the course still used by NAIT Ophthalmic Programs.

In addition to her volunteer work on the educational course for opticians, Janet was a member of the examination board for the Alberta Professions and Occupations Bureau, the organization that certified licenses in Alberta before we became self-regulating in 1992. Afterwards, Janet was part of the Alberta Examination Board, the precursor to the NACOR Practical Licensing Examinations. Janet has always been available to assist with the advancement of the profession wherever possible.

In 2008, Janet pursued her dream to open her own optical office, called Vivid Vision, in Fort Saskatchewan. She is passionate and dedicated to her work, and it’s reflected in her excellent management of her dispensary. Janet is known for being caring and loyal, with a soft spot for small children. Her volunteerism extends to philanthropy, and she does what she can for third world optical charities.

Eike Weiler
RO, RCLP – License # 23

Eike Weiler moved to Canada from Germany with very little English, and a dream to work in optics. He taught himself English and Optical Science simultaneously by acquiring books on the subject written in both English and German, and comparing the two. He began his optical career in 1956, grinding glass lenses in a lab at Imperial Optical. After becoming licensed in 1968, he became the manager of the Optical Prescription Medical Arts Building in Edmonton. He later became manager of the Professional Building.

In the 1970’s, after completing the Ophthalmic Medical Assistance course through the American Association of Ophthalmology, Eike worked for four years with Dr. Doug Anderson doing refractions. He was eager to learn and eager to teach. His students have described him as an excellent teacher, who ensured that they knew how to repair broken frames with soldering and hidden hinges, and taught them to fit cataract and high myopic lenses. He specialized in Low Vision Aids.

Eike served as the Chief Examiner on the Opticians Examining Team, and was responsible for preparing and conducting exams. In 1977 he was chosen to be on a team that examined practicing opticians in Saskatchewan, when legislation dictated they needed to be licensed. From 1983 to 1985, Eike served as an Education Chairman for the Guild. He also served on the Ophthalmic Dispensing Advisory Committee at NAIT, and used NAIT facilities to tutor the Correspondence Course.

In 1992, Eike started his own business conducting services for people who couldn’t travel in their homes, hospitals, or nursing homes. In 2003, after a long career of teaching, serving the public, and serving the profession, Eike retired to Kelowna BC. For his years of dedication and passion for the profession, Eike was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017.


 Nominate a great optician who should be added to the Hall of Fame…

If you know an optician who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, we want to hear about them too! You can nominate someone by submitting this form:

Hall of Fame Nomination Form

Nominate an outstanding optician for the Hall of Fame! Nominations must be made before February 28th, to be considered for that year. Submissions after February 28th will be considered for the next year.

Step 1 of 3

  • Criteria

    This form is for nomination of Opticians (RO’s & RCLP) who have shown excellence and contributed to the profession over their career. Individuals who have had a major impact on Opticianry or have made an impact in their community, nationally, or internationally.

    1) Must have been an Optician for a minimum of 10 years
    2) Have not been an ACAO Director for at least one complete term
    3) Are not currently employed by the ACAO, or not have been employed by the ACAO for at least three years.
  • Who Can Nominate?

    Candidates may be nominated by any ACAO member, co-worker, or student. Nominations must be received before February 28th. Please submit as much information as you can.
  • Selection and Induction

    Selection is made by the ACAO Optician Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

    Inductions will be performed annually at the ACAO Annual General Meeting.
  • Your Information

    The Alberta College and Association of Opticians collects information for the sole purpose of participant information. The information you provide on this form will not be used for any other purpose.