50 Years of Service

Illinois Association of Ophthalmology
Illinois Society of Eye Physicians
and Surgeons
1970 --- 2020



It was on July 22, 1970, when Drs. Frank Kresca, Burton Krimmer and 14 of their colleagues filed the Articles of Incorporation to establish the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology.  Now, 50 years later, that organization continues to thrive in service of its more than 500 practicing members, residents and fellows in training, and most important, their patients.  We thank the 27 ophthalmologists who have served as president, the hundreds who have held seats on the board of directors, and the many volunteers over the years who have worked to make the Illinois Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons an organization dedicated to serving the visual health of Illinois citizens. 

Dr. Kresca served as the first president of the Illinois Association of Ophthalmology, and he remained an active member of the society until his death in 2018 at the age of 97.  We are proud to have created the Frank J. Kresca Lecture in 2005, presented at the ISEPS-COS Joint Conference each year.  CLICK HERE to view a video biography of Dr. Kresca.  These distinguished individuals have delivered the Kresca Lecture over the years.

The State Society is Founded

Frank Kresca, MD of Champaign and Burton Krimmer, MD of Wilmette were the founders of the non-profit corporation that, today, is the Illinois Society of Eye Physicians & Surgeons.  They were joined by the initial board of directors:

  • Maurice M. Hoeltgen, MD, Chicago
  • Robert G. Miller, MD; Chicago
  • Manuel Stillerman, MD; Chicago
  • M. Byron Weisbaum, MD; Springfield
  • J. Robert Fitzgerald, MD; Oak Park
  • Robert G. Miller, MD; Chicago
  • William Cahill, MD; Elmhurst
  • Lawrence Lawson, MD; Evanston
  • Max X. Hirschfelder, MD; Centralia
  • C.L. Pannababecker, MD; Peoria
  • Wallace Strow, MD; Springfield
  • Wilbur Baumgartner, MD; Kewanee
  • William A. McNicholas, MD; Dixon
  • LeRoy Porter, MD; Urbana
  • Elwood F. Kortmeier, MD; Freeport

  VIEW the original Illinois Association of Ophthalmology Articles of Incorporation.

IAO/ISEPS Leaders -- Twenty-seven volunteer ophthalmologists have led the organization over the past 50 years.  These individuals have, at times, had to confront serious challenges to the profession in the form of unfavorable legislation.  But they also have had the opportunity to initiate programs that have proven to be beneficial, not only to Illinois ophthalmology practices and their patients, but also to individuals in need in other parts of the world.  Here is a LIST of doctors who have held the office of president over the past five decades.

In the photo shown, a group of past-presidents gathered at the 2011 ISEPS-COS Joint Conference.  Pictured from left to right are Drs. Gary Rubin, Chicago; Pete Lagouros, Peoria; Oksana Mensheha, Libertyville; Norbert Becker, Geneva;  Chris Albanis, Chicago; Frank Kresca, Champaign; Robert Graham, Chicago; John Hanlon, Oak Lawn; Jim Kapustiak, Marionette Park; and Ronald May, Deerfield.  We thank all of them, and the others who have steered the state society over the years.

CLICK HERE to see the list of current ISEPS board members.

Recognition by the Governor of Illinois


At the 2020 ISEPS-COS Joint Conference, we were proud that Illinois Senate President Don Harmon presented the members with a proclamation issued by Governor JB Pritzker recognizing ISEPS and its members for 50 years of service to the People of Illinois.

READ the full text of the proclamation.


ISEPS Affiliated Organizations

Joining the ISEPS association are two closely-linked organizations.  The Illinois Medical Eye-PAC has, since 1986, served as the political voice for Illinois ophthalmology in the state.  For more than 30 years, the committee has raised nearly $1 million to support candidates for state office who appreciate the value of medical and residency training, and who have demonstrated a commitment to maintaining the quality and availability of medical/surgical eye care in the state.  More recently, the ISEPS Global Ophthalmology Foundation was established as a charitable arm of the association to fund eye care programs here in Illinois and abroad.

Behind the Scenes

While volunteers are the lifeblood of any non-profit association, there are people who work behind the scenes on a daily basis to help make the trains run on time.  On the administrative side, staff at the Illinois State Medical Society managed the affairs of the IAO for many years.  Then, in 1993, the Board of Directors appointed an executive director, Richard Paul, who has guided the business of the association for the past 27 years.  But it's not a one-man show; he has been assisted during that time by a number of staff members, including current administrative assistant Audrey Taxer and her predecessors Jessica Garcia, Meg Rau, Christy Wall, Wendy Staggs, Kristi Moses and Rob Mazur.  Over the years, Judy Rooney tackled meeting planning tasks, while Jackie Fleming and Sarah Keister worked developing legislative issues and grassroots involvement of doctors in the political arena.

IAO and ISEPS have been ably represented in the State Capital by several excellent lobbyists.  Former State Rep. Dan Reitz is our lead lobbyist.  He works closely with several contract lobbying firms, including Dorgan, Phelps & Butcher; former Senator Pamela Althoff; and former Representative Brent Hassert.  Preceding the current team was Vince Persico who previously represented the Glen Ellyn area in the Illinois House and Zale Glauberman of Springfield.  Following Persico's untimely passing in 2016 after a decade of representing ISEPS, the society named its advocacy award in his memory.

Fifty Years Ago

It was just one year, but a lot happened in 1970.  Here are just a few items of interest...

  • President Richard Nixon proposed that Congress create the US Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  Nixon said the changes would fulfill the federal government's commitment to "the rescue of our natural environment and the preservation of the Earth as a place both habitable by and hospitable to man."
  • Private "whites only" schools -- opened in the US in the early 1960s throughout the Deep South as a response to racial integration of public schools -- lost their tax exemption in a policy change announced by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • The radio music countdown show "American Top 40" made its debut with Casey Kasem as host.  The first song introduced was Marvin Gaye's recording of "The End of Our Road", and the first number one hit was "Mama Told Me Not To Come" by Three Dog Night.
  • At Riverfront Stadium, the National League won its eighth straight Major League All-Star game in a 12-inning, 5-4 victory.  Pete Rose crashed into Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run on Cubs Jim Hickman's single.
  • Sears, Roebuck & Company announced plans to construct the tallest building in the world, to be 1,450 feet.  The 110-story Sears Tower (some now call it the "Willis Tower") took in its first tenants in 1973.  The structure is now the corporate headquarters for United Airlines.
  • NBC anchor Chet Huntley retired from full-time broadcasting.
  • After 238 years, the traditional daily drink of rum for British sailors was ended by the Royal Navy.  The rum ration had been permitted for seamen since 1731.
  • Richard J. Daley was Mayor of Chicago, and Richard B. Ogilvie was the Governor of Illinois.
  • There were 335,000 US soldiers in Vietnam, and 6,173 of them died that year.
  • Also in 1970 . . . 
    • ISEPS Executive Director Rich Paul graduated from Lake Park High School in Medinah, IL.  IAO founding board member, William Cahill, had been his ophthalmologist.
    • The Beatles announced their breakup
    • Apollo 13's commander Jim Lovell coined the memorable phrase, "Houston, we have a problem" when an oxygen tank exploded during their trip to the moon.
    • The Boeing 747 made its first commercial flight, operated by Pan-Am on a trip from New York to London with 332 passengers and 18 crew.
    • Nixon ordered a secret invasion of Cambodia.  Anti-war protests across the US erupted when the news got out.  Several students were shot and killed by National Guard troops at Kent State and Jackson State universities.
    • Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Maria Carey, Queen Lafifah and Melania Trump were born.
    • It would be another year before Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to allow optometrists to prescribe "diagnostic" eye drops.

ISEPS Says "Thank You"

Finally, the officers and directors of the Illinois Society of Eye Physicians &  Surgeons wish to express their deep thanks to all of members -- current and past -- who for the past 50 years have made this organization possible through their contribution of time and financial support.