On November 7, 2017 the world lost a true pioneer in the world of eye banking. Barbara started her career at OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute where she ran the Oregon Eye Bank from 1987 to 1998 at which time she took over Lions Eye Bank of Oregon (now Lions VisionGift). She co-Directed the two organizations until merging the programs in 2000. That in and of itself would be accomplishment enough for most of us, but not for Barbara. Barbara spent the next 16 years leading the eye bank through a continuous growth trajectory that has allowed us to contribute to sight saving surgeries, research and education at a level unfathomable in 1998.
It was her commitment to sharing our knowledge that provoked the strongest voices of sorrow from around the eye banking community. Barbara led the EBAA as Chairman in 2000-2002 and was recognized in 2004 with the Heise Award, the highest honor bestowed upon an eye banker for her tremendous contributions to the field. Barbara went on to lead LVG for more than 10 years after winning that award and has mentored many staff to follow her example of giving back to the community. It is through this mentorship and organizational strength that Barbara’s legacy will live on in to the future and is perhaps her greatest gift to eye banking.
While eye banking has lost an icon, Lions VisionGift and our friends have lost our long-time former CEO who was so much more than a leader. She was a friend, a mentor, and an inspiration to be our best. Every recipient of a cornea from LVG, every family offered the option of donation, every “yes” that is honored through the gift of sight, is a tribute to her memory.