Of Surgery and Skiing
My memories of Alan S. Crandall – physician and friend
I feel very lucky to have gotten to know Alan. He invited me to be a faculty member at his first Snowbird Ski Meeting in Utah, USA. It was a long time ago (in 1989) and there were only six of us lecturing that first year. We would give talks in the morning and help in the phacoemulsification lab in the afternoon. And then we’d ski. His idea was that once you were a faculty member, you were always invited back. And return I did – for the next 30 years.
I wasn’t alone in this pilgrimage. Alan was so enthusiastic that he attracted many other people to participate at many levels. But it wasn’t just his enthusiasm that drew us to him. He had a uniquely wonderful combination of curiosity, scientific passion, energy, diligence, honesty, humility, selflessness, generosity, and compassion. And he was a fun-loving guy with a great sense of humor, who feared nothing. His smile and laughter were infectious; we wanted to be around him, we wanted to work with him, and we wanted to have fun with him.
I learned more at that meeting than at any other and met so many fabulous people in the ophthalmology community there. Alan’s open nature was the theme that permeated the meeting. Faculty, attendees, residents, fellows, industry representatives, and sponsors mixed as one – both in the scientific sessions and in afternoon recreation. The microphone was open to anyone. And the video sessions after hors d’oeuvres and hot tubbing became legendary. We all learned a lot and had great fun together.
Because of his essence, the meeting was successful and grew. He attracted wonderful people to attend and participate, most of them year after year, just like me. The gathering could have been called the Meeting of Future ASCRS Presidents; so many of the bright young people who came to be a part of those very special events were also destined to hold that position.
Alan was an awesome cataract surgeon and chose to specialize in glaucoma, probably the most difficult subspecialty in ophthalmology. The eventuality of blindness from glaucoma is extremely and continuously threatening to patients and substantially intimidating to physicians. Trying to save patients’ sight from being extinguished by that disease required all of his best attributes. He was made for it. His surgical interventions were dramatically successful for many, but he helped countless more with his dedication, wisdom, and diligence. Taking care of those patients required years of tireless faith and commitment that most of us are not able to successfully muster. He also chose to dedicate a significant portion of his life to domestic and international mission work, helping those who would otherwise not have access to vision saving or restoring treatment.
We will all miss Alan, but we can continue to have our lives inspired by him – by remembering his work and the love that he had for all of us, as well as the love that we had for him.
Jim and Vicki Davison
Cataract surgery specialist at the Wolfe Eye Clinic, Marshalltown, Iowa, USA