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DONOR'S CORNER: Al Rosenbloom Jr. and Sue Tobert


Anyone familiar with Illinois College of Optometry (ICO) knows the name of Rosenbloom, but most probably associate it with former dean and past president of ICO, Alfred Rosenbloom, OD ’48. Right next to Dr. Rosenbloom, in life and on the sign that greets visitors to the Illinois Eye Institute clinic that bears his name, The Alfred and Sarah Rosenbloom Center on Vision and Aging, is his wife Sarah. 

Alfred and Sarah were a team. Married sixty-six years, the couple had two children, Al and Sue, who now do for Sarah what she did for Alfred by supporting a familial legacy with deep roots in low-vision rehabilitation and a renewed emphasis on patient care with the creation of Sarah’s Fund.

Sarah’s Fund is focused on helping patients obtain the low vision aides and devices they need to help remain an active part of their communities, from high tech gadgets to specialized lamps to low tech magnifiers. When vision is preserved, even if it is limited, an individual patient’s quality of life is preserved right along with it. Connections with family, worship centers, neighborhoods, and work or volunteering are important factors in maintaining a full and joyful life, the kind of life that Sarah herself enjoyed.

When they speak about Sarah, Sue and Al’s eyes light up. “Mom was vivacious with high energy. She would light up a room! She was an active volunteer at ICO, but also at the Museum of Science of Industry and the Cultural Center. She loved to host and had conversations with everyone she met, and once you met, you were family,” says Sarah’s daughter, Sue Tobert.

That extended to many within the ICO community. Al Rosenbloom recalled some of the parties the couple hosted for students when Dr. Rosenbloom was Dean of ICO, “In their partnership, Dad was the professional side and Mom was the social side. She made everything lively and was all inclusive.”

Sue identifies why these low vision aides were so important to Sarah, “Mom’s interest came through Dad’s specialty. As she saw her circle of friends growing old and being impacted themselves by macular degeneration and glaucoma, she felt and understood the needs of low vision in a more personal way.”

Al agrees, “Mom had a continual engagement at the Center on Vision and Aging. She knew that patient care is about quality of life and better vision allows for a better life.” Both of Sarah’s children agree that this fund, launched in tribute to her life and legacy, fits with her spirit of wanting to help people.

“Low vision and patient care are about learning to understand and appreciate. Mom understood that as a partner to Dad in all the things he threw himself into. As Dad began to sunset, Mom began to rise and expand and make good on their joint legacy,” Al says, his pride unmistakable.

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