Krystina Eubanks, OD ’12, came to ICO with a career plan firmly in place: become an optometrist and return to Harrisburg, Ill., to join the practice she had watched her father nurture for her entire life.
Those plans fell apart in her second year, when her father, Gregg Eubanks, OD ‘81, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 55. He left behind a legacy as a successful optometrist and business owner in his southern Illinois community, and he was a passionate advocate for the profession. He was president of the Illinois Optometric Association from 2007-08 and worked with the American Optometric Association and local optometric groups throughout his career.
Having already followed in her dad’s footsteps by coming to ICO, Dr. Eubanks, 27, refused to let his death keep her from following the path back to his practice.
“I had it all planned out. Optometry was what I was going to do and Harrisburg was where I wanted to work,” Dr. Eubanks says. “Losing my father so soon was definitely not part of that plan. However, it is really cool to be able to continue the legacy he started so many years ago. I work in his exam lanes and I get to continue service with the same patients and families he cared for.”
Dr. Eubanks’ mother, Katina, manages the business aspects of the practice. In addition, Benna Daugherty, OD ’82, has been with the practice for over 30 years—and a fixture in Dr. Eubanks’ life. Dr. Daugherty hooded Dr. Eubanks at her ICO commencement in honor of her father.
“Growing up, I watched my dad and Dr. Daugherty doing a job they loved,” Dr. Eubanks says. “They loved going to work and they loved being with people. They never had an ill word to say about their profession. I wanted a job that I loved, too. I wanted to be able to live near my family and touch people’s lives, like they did. If they were that passionate about their profession, then it seemed like a good idea for me.”
The practice has a third doctor, Clint Taylor, OD, and it’s also bustling with various Eubanks family members. Dr. Eubanks’ husband, Keegan, works on the business side, and her brother, Blaine, is a physician in town who stops by frequently. Her sister-in-law, Jenna, comes in to help file.
Of course, there is one family member missing, so it’s never quite the same. But Dr. Eubanks knows that being in the practice her dad loved means he is never really gone from her life.
“Patients tell me things every day about how they connected with my dad through hobbies they shared or experiences they had—it’s really, really neat for me to hear those stories and memories,” Dr. Eubanks says. “So many people in the community were excited for me to come back and continue the practice. It’s bittersweet, but I know it’s where I’m meant to be.”