Roy Harold Brandreth, O.D. |
November 26, 1922 - November 18, 2012
Resident of Rossmoor
After a long illness, Roy Brandreth died on November 18, 2012 with his wife, Karen, by his side. He was born in Calgary, Alberta Canada to John Harold Brandreth and Edith Brandreth. Roy's mother was a homemaker and his father manager for Canadian National Railway telegraph.
As a youngster, Roy demonstrated exceptional hockey skills. Santa Rosa Junior College in California was recruiting Canadian hockey players and offered Roy an athletic scholarship. So at the age of 17, having just completed the 11th grade, Roy came to the United States to pursue an education and athletic future. The 1939 - 1941 hockey teams at Santa Rosa College quickly became the stuff of legends. The teams won the Northern California Championship twice including consecutive wins over defending national champion USC and teams from UCLA, Loyola and Cal. Many claimed they were the best college hockey team in the country. Each season Roy was the leading scorer. In 2004, Roy, and three remaining "Ice Age" players, was inducted into the Santa Rosa College Hall of Fame. Roy's hockey prowess caught the interest of several professional teams with the Toronto Maple Leafs signing him to a contract. World War II interrupted his professional career when he was called into military service in Canada. Roy joined the Royal Canadian Air Force earning his wings as a bomber pilot and navigation instructor.
Upon discharge from the service, Roy received another athletic scholarship. This time from the University of California, Berkeley where he played on the hockey teams during the 1946 - 48 seasons and was honored as an "All American" as the first team hockey center. During his early years in Berkeley Roy taught skating and hockey at Berkeley Iceland and later coached in the Sun Valley Ice Hockey League. In 1953, Roy graduated as an optometrist from the University of California.
Roy practiced as an independent private optometrist for over 30 years with offices first in Oakland and later in Pittsburg, California. It was during the mid 1950s that he and several local optometrists developed the idea of a prepaid vision plan. At that time this was a novel idea. Initially, the program was called California Vision Service (CVS) and later renamed as Vision Service Plan (VSP). Today VSP is the world's largest prepaid vision plan with over 58,000,000 patients enrolled. In 2005, VSP had its 50th year anniversary. Several thousand attended a banquet celebrating the occasion and honoring Roy, as the last surviving founder, and his contribution to VSP.
Roy was active in both professional and community service organizations. He served as president of the Alameda Contra Costa County Optometric Society and was a member of the Pittsburg Lions Club, where he supervised the Lions Vision Screening trailer. He was on the Board of Directors of the Pittsburg Boys Club, was president of the Pittsburg Golf and Country Club and president of the Rossmoor Golf Club.
Over his lifetime Roy was the recipient of many honors. Among these were "Optometrist of the Year" from the Alameda Contra Costa County Optometric Society, "Alumnus of the Year" given by the University of California, Optometry Alumni Association and "Optometrist of the Year" from the California Optometric Association honoring him as the outstanding optometrist in the state. And in 2007, he was inducted into the University of California, Optometry Hall of Fame.
Roy joined the clinical faculty of the University of California, School of Optometry in 1956 advancing through the ranks to Clinical Professor when he retired in 1988. He served as Director of Clinics from 1980 to 1988. Upon his retirement, students arranged and paid for a surprise retirement dinner. They also honored him by establishing the "Roy H. Brandreth Award." The recipient to be selected by each graduating class and given annually to the instructor who best exemplifies true professionalism and who has most influenced optometry students to strive for clinical excellence.
While a member of the faculty at the University of California, he wrote and self published a textbook "Clinical Slit Lamp Biomicroscopy." The book received international acceptance in optometry schools, hospitals, clinics and by private practitioners. Along with his wife, Roy completed a second book expanding upon the original text. Both textbooks are currently used in clinical training. Roy gained a national reputation and was in frequent demand as a speaker at professional meetings.
The Brandreth family wishes to thank all Roy's doctors and the nurses and staff at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. A special thank you goes to caregiver, Kathy McDaniel, for her many years of devoted care.
Roy is survived by his wife of 29 years, Karen Walker Brandreth, his daughter Gail Brandreth Szukalski (David), son Robert Harold Brandreth, and brothers Ron Brandreth (Fran) and Jack Brandreth. He also is survived by grandson, Casey Wise (Melissa), granddaughter Brittany Smithers and great granddaughter Tatum Wise. He was preceded in death by daughters Carol Brandreth Chan (Matt) and Joan Matsutani (Jim).
Roy was a visionary, a giant among his peers. He had a major role in the development of his profession and its emergence as an essential part of healthcare. By making "vision" a part of an employee benefit package, millions had greater access to affordable quality vision care. His was a life of significance. A life filled with the respect of his colleagues and love from his family and many friends. He was a gentleman, known for his quick smile and laugh, for his love of good food and wine and for his passion for the game of golf. He will be missed, as he was loved, greatly.
A celebration of life will be held December 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM at the Fireside Room in Rossmoor in Walnut Creek.
Donations will be gratefully accepted and may be made to "UC Berkeley Foundation" and addressed to "The Dr. Roy Brandreth Optometric Equipment Fund" c/o Jill Malko, Director of Philanthropy University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry. Minor Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-2020.
Published in Contra Costa Times on Dec. 2, 2012