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Winter 2023







Sydney Harris (NICO), 100, of West Bloomfield, passed away on October 31, 2023.

He was an honored World War II veteran, serving in the Ardennes and Rhineland Campaigns as a rifleman. He was severely wounded by shrapnel in February 1945 and spent over a year in Percy Jones Hospital in Michigan. In addition to many ribbons, he also received a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. His battle wounds became reinfected approximately 15 years later after some vigorous exercise, and he spent another year and a half in the Veterans Administration Hospital in Detroit.

Sydney was very proud of his military service. After his discharge from the Army, Sydney returned to school in Chicago, graduating from Northern Illinois College of Optometry in 1947.

Shortly after, he opened a successful solo practice in Roseville, where he worked for more than 35 years. His wife worked in the business side of the office, ordering frames, making appointments and greeting patients. Sydney was honored to be an alumnus of ICO, attending class reunions as a member of the 50-Year Club and being the largest benefactor to the school from the state of Michigan.


Michael Joseph Kacere, Sr., (NICO), 100, passed away on February 1, 2023. 

Mike was a World War II veteran who served in the Army Air Corps from 1942 until 1945. He was a navigator on the B-17 bomber and completed 25 missions in the European theater of operation. After the war, Mike decided to use his G.I. Bill to become an optometrist. He entered college and received a doctorate degree in optometry in 1949 from Northern Illinois College of Optometry



George T. Barrera (NICO), 99, passed away on 

February 9, 2023.

He left his hometown for the first time when he was drafted into the US Army, where he served in the China-India-Burma Theater until 1946. When returning from the war, he met and fell in love with a feisty red-headed beauty, Bertha Carrillo, of Benavides, Texas and attended Northern Illinois College of Optometry. After graduating college in 1950, he began working for Texas State Optical (TSO) in San Antonio, Texas. 

Chester A. Kirkpatrick (NICO), 98, passed away on

October 20, 2023.

Chester worked as a mail carrier starting in high school to help pay his way through college. Chester received a Doctor of Optometry degree from Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, Illinois, in 1950. He worked his way through optometry school by serving as an elevator operator at a Chicago hotel and walking race horses at the local horse track.

Early in his practice, Dr. Kirkpatrick served in the United States Army. After basic training, he was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, at the Brooke Army Hospital Eye Clinic. Chester was a member of the Missouri Optometric Association and served as State Secretary of that organization for seven years. He was an active member of the West Central Optometric Association and the American Optometric Association.

Gifford "Jerry" McBride, Jr., (NICO), 99, passed away on October 4, 2023 in Oklahoma City.

Gifford graduated from Classen High School in 1942 and attended Oklahoma City University before joining the US Navy. After the war, he graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and he and his wife Anna moved to Chicago where he graduated with honors from the Northern Illinois College of Optometry.

He practiced optometry until he was 94 and loved to ride his bike down the street to his office.


Harland L. Beers (NICO), 95, passed away on July 21, 2023 in Bonita Springs, FL.

He was in a group of young men drafted late in the war to be sent all over the Pacific to guard and organize the many places left in chaos. He ended up in Korea, where he saw the cruelty of war through the eyes of the Koreans, who were left with little to rebuild their country. When he was discharged from the army, he pursued his career at Western Michigan University and Northern Illinois College of Optometry graduating in 1951.


Ronald O. Davis passed away on February 6, 2023. 

He served our country in the U.S. Navy during World War II throughout the South Pacific as a morse code operator on the USS Barnes aircraft carrier. Dr. Davis graduated from the University of Washington and later graduated from the Illinois College of Optometry. He returned to Seattle and founded Davis Optical in the University District in 1955 where he joyfully practiced optometry until his retirement. Dr. Davis was a pioneer and leader in the Seattle optometric community. 



James Howard Howenstine, 78, passed away on September 17, 2022, in Tequesta following a courageous battle with pulmonary fibrosis. James was an optometrist for 35 years and was the owner of Ohio Valley Vision Center in Steubenville. He was active in numerous Steubenville, Ohio, and Jupiter, Florida area civic and charitable organizations.



Donald Ray “D.R.” Gordon, 75, passed away on 

June 25, 2023.

He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago in 1971. He also received the President’s Award at graduation. 

D.R. joined his father’s optometry practice in 1971 after graduation. He was also employed as the Optometric Coordinator for the state of Illinois for twenty-five years. He was the past-president of the National Board of Examiners in Optometry, past-president of the Association of Regulatory Boards of Optometry, and past-chair of the Illinois Optometric Licensing and Disciplinary Board. He was honored to be the Illinois Optometrist of the Year in 1991 and the Alumnus of the Year at ICO in 1998. In 2019, the Illinois Optometric Association honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. 


James M. "Jim" Pascavis, 73, passed away on June 21, 2023. Jim earned his Doctor of Optometry from Illinois College of Optometry in 1975. After graduating, Jim and wife Jan moved to Germany where Jim served in the U.S. Army as a Captain at the 279th Army Hospital in West Berlin. He was a proud veteran, serving his country from 1975-1979, providing care and perfecting his skills as an optometrist while overseas.


John P. Gabriel, 76, passed away on October 10, 2023.

John graduated from Brother Rice High School in 1965 and attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne prior to returning to Chicago. John and his wife Kathleen married in 1968 and then deployed to Bangkok, Thailand, where he served in the United States Army for three years as a communications specialist. John actively served in the Lions Club and the Holy Name Society. Concurrently, John earned his Doctor of Optometry degree from the Illinois College of Optometry; he established his optometric practice in Brighton Park where he served beloved patients for nearly 40 years. In 1983, the family moved to Palos Hills, Illinois. John rejoined the Army in the reserves as a Commissioned Officer Optometric Doctor and served the Fort Sheridan Garrison for a decade. In retirement, John relocated to La Grange and made a new and wonderful group of friends. 



Bradley Weyers, 68, passed away on July 30, 2023. 

He dedicated his professional life to his work at Great River Eye Care.





Friends and Family


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The following abbreviations denote predecessor names of the Illinois College of Optometry.
NICO: Northern Illinois College of Optometry
CCO: Chicago College of Optometry
MCO: Monroe College of Optometry

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