By Garrett Dvorkin
Herald Staff Reporter
“There will be times that I look at a chart and recognize my grandfather made this,” said Dr. Scott Kennedy.
For the first time in more than 100 years, those seeking eye care in Titusville will not be able to see a Kennedy; as Scott is retired.
A fourth-generation optometrist in the Oil Valley Region, Kennedy took over his father’s practice after starting his career in Titusville in August of 1980. For more than 40 years Kennedy served his community by providing care and building relationships with his patients.
While Kennedy is stepping back from his professional role, he plans to remain a fixture in the community.
While other kids may have wanted to be an astronaut or a firefighter, Kennedy has always wanted to follow in the family profession. He remembers giving a presentation in elementary school about how he wanted to be an optometrist when he grew up, just like his dad. While he did say he was never pushed to be an optometrist, when you look at the family tree, there was never really any doubt.
It started back in the early 1900’s when Kennedy’s great-grandfather opened up a small practice in Oil City. Next came his grandfather, great-uncle, his father and uncle, who were all optometrists.
Over the last century, the Kennedy family has provided eye care to patients in offices located in Oil City, Franklin and Titusville. There have been times where his patients will tell him things about his grandfather. “I had a patient come in who was 88,” he said. “She told me that my grandfather was the person who first gave her glasses when she was just seven years old.”
His daughter changed her major from pre-optometry. bringing an end to the family career path.
Kennedy sold his practice three years ago to Dr. Christopher Adsit, of Meadville. The plan was to sell the practice and eventually wind down to retirement. The slowing down process has officially come to an end as Kennedy saw his last patient just before Thanksgiving.
Over his 40-year career, Kennedy has seen thousands of patients. Being in a medical role allows him to build special relationships. “As a doctor you get to see these people routinely,” he said. “Every year they come in and give you an update about their family. You get to see how these families grow.”
Kennedy has seen more than just families grow, he has seen the growth and changes that shaped his industry.
When he first started practicing, optometry was all about one specialty, glasses and contacts. Kennedy remembers the introduction of soft contact lenses, something that really changed the industry.
Optometrists used to take a contact lens, measure a patients eye, then take the contact to a wet stone and file away until it fit. The manual process was long and arduous.
That entire process is now done by one computer and can take just seconds. The field has also evolved to where the care they can give is much improved.
When Kennedy first started, a corneal ulcer would be a condition that required hospitalization and was considered “sight- threatening.” Now those ulcers are treated with a simple intravenous procedure and eye drops. “They’re just not a big deal like they used to be,” he said.
While Kennedy will certainly miss helping manage his patients sight and their eye problems, what he will really miss is the people. “I’ve always liked people,” he said.
Beverley Forbes, who has worked with Kennedy for 23 years as his office manager, echoed that statement.
Forbes said that Kennedy loves caring for others. “He is a shepherd,” she said. “He cares for and watches over his flock, whether it is with his business, church or family.”
When asked, Kennedy said that he had a few words for those in his “flock.” “I’d like to thank all the people who have made these 40 years so special,” he said. “The staff I worked with, the patients I saw and the interactions I had meant so much to me. Without the people of this town I couldn’t have made a career.”
Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.