Most healthcare patients have received treatment at facilities bearing the names of prominent individuals. The Fredric M. Rosemore, OD, Low Vision Service at The Eye Center at Southern College of Optometry is no different. Yet the man whose name graces this particular service area was truly someone special, the kind of civic-minded individual whose work and legacy continues with each passing year.
A 1948 graduate of SCO, Dr. Rosemore became an optometrist after serving his country during World War II, thanks in part to the G.I. Bill that provided veterans with the funds to further their education. The decorated Prisoner of War was determined to help people see better with the expertise he learned in Memphis. Moving to Alabama, Dr. Rosemore became a very successful optometrist and practiced a number of years before retiring to pursue business interests.
In his daily practice, Dr. Rosemore realized that many rural residents lacked access to healthcare because of poverty. In the 1950s, Medicaid and other programs had yet to be created, so Dr. Rosemore created his own charity program and set aside time from his schedule to see patients in need.
“He actually used to get the health department to send people to him who were in need,” remembers his daughter, Dr. Martha Rosemore Morrow, who also graduated from SCO and now serves as the Alumni Council Representative on the college’s Board of Trustees. “He devoted Tuesdays to seeing people, examining them, and providing them glasses for free when they couldn’t afford them,” she said.
Dr. Rosemore recognized the connection between good vision and the ability to thrive in daily life. Without being able to see clearly, local residents in his town couldn’t do the work required by factory jobs. Children who couldn’t see well were challenged academically in school. The need was great, and he intended to do everything he could to make life better for his patients.
“As a child, I remember how people lined up to be seen by my father,” Dr. Morrow says. “People just really needed that help, and he was glad to provide it to them. He was a man of character who always believed in helping those less fortunate.”
Dr. Rosemore lived his creed on a daily basis, and in his later years, he extended his philanthropy to a number of worthwhile causes. He and his wife, Marion, actively supported scholarships for optometry students. Their daughter notes that Dr. Rosemore’s sense of obligation to his fellow man was tied in part to the gratitude he had for his country helping him attend optometry school.
In his later years, Dr. Rosemore’s support for low vision services at his alma mater was enhanced by his own experiences. After diabetes impacted his eyesight, Dr. Rosemore needed assistive devices to help him in his love of reading. His family turned to SCO and The Eye Center for information and help in selecting the best devices to help him see better.
The retired optometrist had always known about health conditions and diseases that diminish eyesight, but he gained greater empathy after his own experience with vision problems. True to his giving nature, Dr. Rosemore, along with his wife, decided to support The Eye Center’s Low Vision Service to help other patients. Because Medicare and Medicaid typically will not cover the costs of low vision assistive devices, senior patients or lower income patients often lack the financial resources to obtain the help they need.
The Rosemores generously supported SCO’s Low Vision Endowment Fund. The Assisi Foundation in Memphis matched a gift the Rosemores made and agreed to match an additional $250,000 if other alumni and donors would support the fund. Results immediately followed. One Memphis girl, Alyssa Loggins, was provided with magnifiers and telescopes to help the 11-year-old enjoy her favorite hobby, reading, and to succeed in school.
In 2007, The Eye Center’s Low Vision Service was renamed for Dr. Fredric M. Rosemore. Last year nearly 800 patients received care at the service bearing Dr. Rosemore’s name. Two new external clinical collaborations were recently added to expand service in the Memphis area through partnerships with the Baptist Rehabilitation Hospital and the Catholic Diocese of Memphis’ Angel Program.
Though Dr. Rosemore passed away in 2008, patients still benefit from his belief in helping people. Dr. Morrow says her father always hoped that others would follow his example.
“Just as his country had helped him in return for serving in World War II, my father always believed that if he helped people, it would encourage others to do the same,” she says. “Whether it means a low vision patient can read to her grandchildren or somebody can go to a place of worship, my father believed if he helped, it would encourage others to be able to give back in their own way.”
The care that Dr. Rosemore provided in his life continues like an unbroken chain. The next person helped is empowered to help yet another. His example reminds us all that we can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors and community.
If you would like to learn more about what you can do to provide more patient care in Memphis and follow the example of Dr. Rosemore and his family, contact Southern College of Optometry’s Office of Institutional Advancement at (901) 722-3216.