Memories of Dr. Hill

In their own words, alumni remember Dr. Hill
Dr. Hill with 4 other deans
Dr. Hill, Fred Hebbard, OD, PhD, Karla Zadnik, OD, PhD, John Schoessler (BS’65, OD’66, MS’68, PhD’71) and Mel Shipp, OD, MPH, DrPH, in 2014

“He had a significant impact on my career and on my life. He convinced Dean Hebbard to take a chance on me so that I could be the first woman to earn a PhD in Physiological Optics from Ohio State. He then had to fight pretty hard so that Dean Hebbard agreed to hire me as the first woman on the college’s tenure-track faculty. When I was interested in being the first chair of what was then the Affirmative Action Committee, he supported me in this interest even though he was initially less-than-thrilled that I wanted to take on this challenge. He was an excellent mentor, and he provided encouragement, advice, and strategies throughout my career.”

Barbara Fink (OD/MS‘85, PhD’87)

Dr. Hill and Dr. FInk
Barbara Fink (OD/MS’85, PhD’87) and Dr. Hill

“I was fortunate to have worked in Dr. Hill’s research lab as an optometry student and then to have him as my advisor for my master’s and PhD degrees. I remember one situation in the lab where I was measuring the oxygen uptake with different experimental contact lenses. One acted as if there was no lens on the eye. I thought something was wrong with the instruments or my procedure. I went to him to see what the lens was and to have him see if what I was finding was correct. He was also surprised; however, it turned out to be a 100% silicone lens.”

Jerry Lowther (BS’66, OD’67, MS’69, PhD’72)

“I was very sad to learn of the passing of Dr. Hill. He was incredibly informative and fundamentally responsible for the early stages of my evolution as a practitioner. I learned so much from him, not just about eye care but ideas about attention to detail; he inspired me. He continued to inspire me through most of my life as a practitioner. He was indeed a remarkable person.”

Josh Josephson (OD’68)

“He was kind and gentle and brilliant. He was very neat and incredibly organized. He often bought two of the same thing for his research projects. The second one was a backup in case something happened to the first. He would often describe a place or thing as being “top drawer” or “first cabin.” As dean, he gave out an incredible number of award certificates, usually framed. I have one for surviving a flood we had at the college when a hot water line broke after a subzero day one January. He constantly wore a white  lab coat when on duty at the college. He was a friend, and I never hesitated to talk with him on any subject.”

Mike Polasky (OD’69)

Dr. Hill presenting awards
Arol Augsburger (OD/MS’71) and Dean Hill present certificates to Bob Newcomb (OD’71, MPH) and Bill Schuller (BS’65, OD, MPH) for teaching students and residents at affiliated VA facilities.

“Dick was an unselfish mentor. While he was a taskmaster, he enjoyed seeing his students succeed and thrive as researchers, teachers, and clinicians. Along with Jack King, PhD, Dick was my co-advisor for my PhD work.  Knowing my passion and desire to make ocular disease my career focus, he encouraged me. Shortly after I passed the general exam to qualify for the degree, he came to me and said, ‘I’d like to turn my ocular disease courses over to you after you complete your graduate studies.’ In fact, he allowed me to begin giving lectures even before I completed my degree - all the while sitting in the back of the classroom coaching me along the way. He was an incredible person, to whom I owe much.”

Kevin Alexander (OD’76, MS’77, PhD’79)

“As everyone knows, Dr. Hill was quite a storyteller. He had many memories from his time in California working at Forest Lawn Cemetery. He and Lee were married in the beautiful chapel there. I remember him telling me about a lonely widower visiting his deceased wife, and it always makes me smile. Seated at her gravesite, flask in hand, the widower offers little toasts to shared memories. And with each tipple, he pours a little on the grave for her. What a wonderful sense of humor he had!”

Paulette Schmidt (OD’73, MS’76)

Dr. Hill at an NOA reception
Cynthia Heard (OD’92), Massala Reffell (OD’05), Sylvia Jones (OD/MS’06), Lee Hill, Dr. Hill, LeVelle Jenkins (OD’88), Clayton Hicks (OD’70), Melvin Shipp, OD, MPH, DrPH, Funmilayo Aranmolate (OD’08), Ravaughn Williams (OD/MS’07) at the NOA convention in 2

“I’ll share one thing that I was so grateful for having learned from Dick. I was in the Air Force three weeks after graduation and his last pathology final. I was standing in the hall at the door of my office waiting on the next patient. A woman who lived three buildings away from me walked down the hall with her 11-month-old daughter in her arms. She saw me and came over and asked me about her daughter’s eye. It was a different shade of blue. I put the penlight on her and WOW! amaurotic cat’s eye pupil, which was on Dick’s final (differential diagnosis question). It was a retinoblastoma. Three months later, I was out in the hall again and she came by with the baby. She wanted me to see how good the implant looked and thanked me for saving her child’s life.”

Roger Saneholtz (OD’74)

“He was a true mentor and scholar. I will never forget how he juggled a pointer and two slide projector remotes. We all groaned when that beautiful picture appeared on the screen knowing it was a pop quiz. Then during his three-question midterms and five-question finals, you had to spill your brain to answer to get a decent grade. He will be missed by many!”

Ron Arenstein (OD’76)

“Dr. Hill was an excellent teacher and in many ways equal to the great Dr. Fry. Although they were different, they both have a long line of successful students. Dr. Hill taught me science, but, just as importantly, he taught me kindness and grace. I am greatly indebted to him.”

 Kent Daum (OD’76, MS’77, PhD’79)

“Richard Hill, scientist, educator, administrator, leader, colleague, and tireless author taught us the relationships between contact lenses of all types and the physiology of the ocular surface and cornea like no other. Every serious contact lens expert listened to his every word intently.”

Joe Barr (OD’77, MS’79)

Dr. Hill in a group photo
Emeritus Dean Hill at the 2014 Visionary Dinner for Neal J. Bailey Development Award recipients.

“He was my mentor and hero throughout my optometry school years. He recruited me to work in his research lab on the first day of school in 1975. Due to my experiences in medical lab work in the military, Dr. Hill felt that I could work in contact lens research. It was great fun, and I idolized Dr. Hill. He will be greatly missed.”

Michael Lawson (OD’79)

“Such an inspiration to many of us who went on to pursue careers in contact lens research and industry. A true gentleman and one who always made time for his students.”

Gary Orsborn (OD’83, MS’85)

“A great optometrist, professor, researcher, and dean. But above all, one of the kindest and nicest human beings I’ve ever met.”

Yoongie Min (OD’89)

“A brilliant researcher, a pioneer in optometry, and one of the kindest professors.”

Lisa Ciccarelli Testa (OD/MS’90)

“Fond memories of my admission interview and the dueling projector lectures from Dean Hill.”

Mo Merchea (OD’97, MS’99, PhD’03)

“Absolute legend. I did my very first ACOE site visit with him. Because he was my dean, I was so nervous. But he was so kind and helpful. I learned so much from him. Sweet, smart man who truly cared about people and our profession.”

Amy Grimes (OD’98)