Fall 2018
ICO Jeff Smith Essentials Fall 2018

Essentials: Jeff Smith, OD ’83, MBA

The career of Jeff Smith, OD ’83, MBA, has taken him to Dallas, San Diego, Cleveland, New York, San Antonio, even London. “All are great places,” Dr. Smith says, but before 2018, he’d never received a job in his “favorite city.”

Chicago is where Dr. Smith grew up, and of course, where he went to the Illinois College of Optometry. Over the course of his life, he also attended Drake University, the University of Illinois, and the University of Chicago, but ICO remains closest to Dr. Smith’s heart. In 2017, he retired and decided to move back to his beloved home town.

In 2018, Dr. Smith received what he calls “the greatest opportunity of [his] professional life.” He was offered the title of lnterim President of ICO. Dr. Smith quickly decided, “Retirement can wait!” and took the position July 1 – August 5, 2018. Says Dr. Smith, “It was wonderful to help during this transitional time. When I was working on my Masters in Business, ICO helped find me a job that allowed me to simultaneously study and practice. Then, I became an ICO Board Member, and eventually Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees. When I look back 30 years, ICO has always been there for me.”

Here are the Essentials that kept Dr. Smith going as Interim President:

Self-Proclaimed Foodie

“Chicago is a great food paradise. The city offers all types of dishes from Chicago-style hot dogs to haute cuisine in formal restaurants. Most unique to Chicago is the pizza! Although many cities like New York or Philadelphia have great pizzas, only Chicago has both great thin crust and stuffed pizzas.”

The Art of Optometry

“I love art museums. Van Gogh had retinal issues. The best place to go to understand Van Gogh is Amsterdam. At the Van Gogh Museum, the art is arranged chronologically- from a young artist to the very end. You can see the visual, neurological stuff that was happening at the end.”

Guiding Light

“Lighthouses are very historical, very functional, very interesting… but now, with satellites, they aren’t used really at all. The Coast Guard sold them all. I now own Gull Rock Light Station off the upper peninsula of Michigan in Lake Superior. A foundation is restoring it.”


“I’m not super into fashion. I like wearing white shirts, plain pants. I will splurge on one thing, though; the tie I’m wearing today is Thai silk by Jim Thompson!”

Period Piece

“I hate to admit it, but I get into all the trash on Netflix. The one I got super into was Babylon Berlin. All this political intrigue is going on, but then they go to a club and dance!”

South For the Winter

“Chicago has great architecture, cultural events, and food. There’s just one thing about Chicago that I don’t love… Winter. I spend those months in Texas or Florida.”

The Pearle Tulip

“My mentor was Stanley Pearle, OD ’39, who started Pearle Vision. He came to ICO after his time in World War II and did a lot of wonderful things. He was the night watchman at Allergan Hotel, then went to class during the day. Dr. Pearle brought labs and chain optometry together. Speaking of Amsterdam, the Dutch let Dr. Pearle design his very own breed of tulip as an award for being the #1 optical in the Netherlands. They colored the tulip based on his wife’s favorite lipstick, and the Netherlands send Dr. Pearle 5,000 free bulbs of The Pearle Tulip per year.”


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