The American Optometric Association remarked on the life of industry legend and beloved colleague Frank Fontana, OD, affectionately known as “Uncle Frank” by friends and colleagues, after his passing on Oct. 3.
Fontana, who was 96, will be remembered for his enduring enthusiasm and passion for a profession he helped guide for nearly 7 decades, according to the AOA’s website.
A native of St. Louis, Fontana was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 where he became a supply sergeant in a medical battalion during World War II. He would use his GI Bill to graduate from Illinois College of Optometry in 1949.
Only 1 year later, Fontana opened his practice in St. Louis and specialized in contact lenses. He published countless articles and clinical investigations related to contact lenses and consulted and lectured on the topic.
In 1979, he was named chair of AOA’s then Contact Lens Committee and was co-founder of AOA’s Contact Lens Section before chairing the section in 1983.
He was also an active volunteer in his local optometric society.
Fontana earned editorial positions with many trade publications, as well as adjunct teaching and research positions at both the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry and Washington University School of Medicine.
In 2012 he was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame and awarded the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section Legend Award, the AOA Contact Lens Section Man of the Year Achievement and countless other industry recognitions throughout his career, according to the AOA’s website.
"Frank's contributions to our field are formidable and well-documented," Carmen Castellano, OD, said in the announcement from the AOA. "Although his greatest asset was his people skills. Frank knew everybody, and everybody knew 'Uncle Frank.' He had a gift of remembering details about everyone he knew, and he was legendary for being able to tell you the names and ages of the children of people he knew throughout the industry. He loved optometry like few others, and optometry will miss Frank Fontana."
A viewing is scheduled for Oct. 12, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a memorial service scheduled for Oct. 13, 10 a.m., at the Schrader Funeral Home in Ballwin, Mo. A Celebration of Life service is planned for Oct. 27 at 1 p.m., with the location to be determined. Members of the profession are invited to attend the Celebration of Life for "Uncle" Frank.