Bernard Kushner, optometrist who started nonprofit

Bernard Kushner
Bernard Kushner
Posted: January 10, 2014

Bernard Kushner, 96, of Bala Cynwyd, an optometrist who served on the Pennsylvania State Board of Optometrical Examiners, died Sunday, Jan. 5, of cardiovascular failure at his home.

A leader in his medical profession since graduating from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1940, Dr. Kushner was appointed in 1961 to the state examining board for a four-year term.

He was reappointed by Govs. William W. Scranton, Raymond P. Shafer, Milton J. Shapp, and Richard L. Thornburgh, and served as chairman of the board for many years.

At his retirement from the board in 1984, Dr. Kushner was presented with a plaque commemorating his dedication to the profession and service to the citizens of Pennsylvania.

In that role, he helped raise the standards of training and clinical performance in optometry, the practice of examining the eyes for visual defects and prescribing corrective lenses.

Dr. Kushner kept abreast of developments in the field for more than 50 years by attending lectures, seminars, and study groups.

He was president of the Philadelphia County Optometric Society and helped found the nonprofit Vision Conservation Institute Inc. The organization educates Pennsylvania residents about eye care and the role optometrists play as primary eye-care providers. It also furnishes scholarships to students and supports vision-related research projects.

Dr. Kushner was a past fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a trustee of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, where he served as college treasurer and head of the finance committee.

In 1973, Dr. Kushner received the Albert Fitch Memorial Alumnus of the Year Award for outstanding service in optometry.

Dr. Kushner practiced from an office in West Philadelphia for 50 years. He served on the optometric panel of the Philadelphia Police and Fire departments, and helped administer the vision plans of several bargaining units for public employees.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, he was married to the former Hilda Felt. She died in 2008.

His civic work included service on various highway safety councils and work with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

He was a past president of the former Congregation Beth T'fillah of Overbrook Park; a member of the Equity Lodge, F.& A.M., and a Cub Scout pack leader. For many years, he served as chairman of the optometric division of the Allied Jewish Appeal.

In 1972, Dr. Kushner was honored by the state of Israel with the Shalom Award. That same year he received the Humanitarian Award from the Allied Jewish Appeal and the Federation of Jewish Agencies.

He is survived by a son, Alan, and two grandsons.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, at Temple Adath Israel, 250 N. Highland Ave., Merion Station, Pa. 19066. Interment is in Mount Lebanon Cemetery, Collingdale.

Contributions may be made to Temple Adath Israel.


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