Posted: Fullerton, CA, March 13, 2012
SCCO Professor Emeritus Walter Wm. Chase, O.D., M.S., passed away, February 20, after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Chase served as an SCCO faculty member for 38 years, 1966 – 2004 and was a gifted teacher; his primary interests were Ocular Motility and Optics of the Eye. In addition he served in numerous capacities with the American Academy of Optometry. A Memorial Service was held on February 25, in Irvine, CA.
Dr. Chase completed his pre-med education at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, and matriculated to the optometry program at Indiana University. Always a serious student, after receiving his optometry degree, he decided to continue on to graduate school where he became a teaching assistant in the University’s computing center. It was an exciting time for this graduate student as the IBM computer there was the most powerful in the country at that time. Eventually he was asked to teach a course in FORTRAN to University scientists and realized that teaching would be a significant part of his future. His Master’s thesis was on building clinical data bases for computer studies. Though common now, this was a pioneering achievement in the early 1960s.
His academic career, from 1966 to 2004, was spent entirely at the Southern California College of Optometry where he taught many courses, including Optics, Visual Psychophysics, Sensory Vision and Professional Ethics. This very gifted man was much beloved by colleagues and students, wining the accolade Teacher of the Year on several occasions. Over the years he generously contributed his time on numerous committees and served in the administrative capacity as Chair of the Department of Basic and Visual Science from 1972–78, Faculty Council (President), Director of Research (1968–78) and Grants Coordinator (1988–89). All these responsibilities enabled him to play a meaningful role in governance at the College. His experience and wisdom as a committee member was always valued by those who worked closely with him.
Dr. Chase achieved membership in numerous professional organizations and was most proud of his association with the American Academy of Optometry. A significant accomplishment of Dr. Chase was the production of a videotape series for the “Living History” program of the American Academy of Optometry. This series was recorded from 1988 to 1992 and contains invaluable historical perspectives of many of the Academy leaders who have helped shape the profession over the past 50 years.
At the time of his retirement, the College established an endowment, the Dr. Walter Chase Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, thanks to contributions from colleagues and the Chase family. If you wish to honor Dr. Chase by making a memorial contribution you may do so online at www.scco.edu/givenow, utilizing the Other option and indicating the Dr. Walter Chase Teaching Excellence Endowment. Or by writing a check, made payable to SCCO with the Chase Endowment indicated in the memo, and mailing it to: Mr. Paul Stover, VP for Advancement, SCCO, 2575 Yorba Linda Blvd., Fullerton, CA 92831.