An Officer and a Gentleman – Dr. Robert Wold
This blog entry appears as part of a series I am offering entitled “The Giants of Vision Therapy”. The series is dedicated to those who have contributed handsomely to Behavioral Optometry, and upon whose shoulders we all proudly stand.
Dr. Robert Wold grew up in Devils Lake, North Dakota. He received his Doctor of Optometry degree from Pacific University College of Optometry in 1964 and received his MS in Physiological Optics from Pacific in 1966. He was in private practice in Los Altos, California from 1965 to June of 1969, when he joined a group practice in Chula Vista, California.
Dr. Wold was President of The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD), an international organization he co-founded in 1971, and served as Secretary for 28 years before becoming President. Dr. Wold was also a Past President of the San Diego County Optometric Society (1975-76 and 1981-82) and the American Optometric Foundation (1991-92). He was a Diplomat of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry and a Distinguished Practitioner in the National Academy of Practice, National Academy of Practice in Optometry. He served on numerous committees for the California Optometric Association and the American Optometric Association.
Dr. Wold received the first Young Optometrist of the Year Award from the California Optometric Association in 1970, the A.M. Skeffington Award from the College of Optometrists in 1974, Optometrist of the Year from the San Diego County Optometric Society in 1978, and the Best Article Award from the Optometric Editors Association in 1981. He received the G.N. Getman Award for Excellence in Development Optometry at the last COVD Annual Meeting in October 2000, in Reno, Nevada, where he was also sworn in as President. Dr. Wold lectured extensively in the United States and Canada. He edited 2 books, co-authored 2 books, wrote 1 book, and published over 120 professional articles.
When I asked Linda Sanet about her experiences with Dr. Wold, Linda offered this:
In 1975, newly graduated from the Optometric Technician program at SUNY, I went to interview at the office of Drs. Nelson, Wilson, and Wold in Chula Vista, California. I didn’t know anything about the doctors, but my husband had told me that Dr. Wold was “famous.”
Optometric Technicians were relatively unknown in those days, and Dr. Nelson, Wilson, and Wold (or NWW as they liked to be called) were among the first in our area to embrace the concept. Their idea was to hire 3 techs, one to work alongside of each of the optometrists. When I was hired I was assigned to Dr.Wold. The other 2 doctors practiced optometry in a more “traditional” way, but Dr. Wold spent 3 days a week in the Vision Therapy room. I could not believe my good fortune – although I had done well in my studies and enjoyed doing many of the things an Optometric Technician was expected to do, Vision Therapy was my first love.
Dr. Wold was a wonderful employer. He was generous with his time and expertise and never made me feel foolish even when I asked the same question for the fifth time. He supported and encouraged me to learn more, put up with some of my crazy ideas, and even paid me to attend seminars and read books on his time! He may have seemed somewhat gruff on the outside to others at times, but he was really a kind and thoughtful man, and one of the most organized people I have ever met. Although he really was “famous,” he was also very humble and down to earth.
Bob and I had arrived in California from New York in July of that year. Both of us were New Yorkers who had no family on the west coast. And being newly out of school, we didn’t have money to return home for the holidays. Dr. Wold and his wife Marge, son Tony, and daughter Dawn invited us to their home and welcomed us just like members of their family. Dr. Wold said, “I just didn’t want you to be alone at this time of year.”
My one and only encounter with Dr. Wold was during my first COVD Annual Meeting in Reno, which unfortunately, was Dr. Wold’s last. He was seated alone in the lobby wearing a suit when Dr. Carole Hong, who gave me my start in VT, introduced us. My recollection is he was a kind man of very few words. At the time, I didn’t know much about who Dr. Wold was or what he had accomplished. Through researching this article, I have learned how amazing a man he really was.
Dr. Robert Wold – a Vision Therapy Giant.
Portions of this write up borrowed from the Optometry and Vision Science Journal – Volume 78 – Issue 9 – September 2001