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Dr. Arthur Jampolsky


It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Dr. Arthur Jampolsky. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 19, 2021.


Arthur (Art) Jampolsky, M.D., was born in North Dakota on April 24, 1919. Brought up in Long Beach, California, he entered the University of California at Berkeley at age 17, and graduated with a degree in optometry in 1940. He then entered Stanford University School of Medicine, graduating in 1943 with his M.D. degree. After internship, he immediately volunteered for active duty in the Army Medical Corps. He was assigned to the Philippines for active duty during World War II. After the armistice, he was appointed as ophthalmologist in Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters.


When Stanford moved its medical school to Palo Alto, Art and others remained behind to form what is now California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC), currently part of the Sutter Health network. Art became head of the Eye Department, setting it on course to become the respected program it is today.


In 1963, he founded the independent, world-renowned Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, based on the principle of clinical and laboratory scientists collaborating on research. A clinical fellowship program was also instituted, training more than a hundred ophthalmologists from around the world in strabismus, a condition in which the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object. Beginning in 1978, reunion meetings of its graduates, the Jampolsky Fellows group, have been held yearly at various locations around the world, with its members considered by Art as his proudest legacy.


Having early on become an acknowledged world leader in strabismus, Art participated in the founding of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.


In addition to his fame in strabismus, Art was extremely active in supporting the cause of blind and low vision rehabilitation, leading for a considerable period the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) at Smith-Kettlewell and instigating numerous innovations in this field. He also helped found several related organizations including the Blind Babies Foundation, and served on the board of the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind, as well as the Exploratorium in San Francisco.


On the national scene, Art was one of a small group of ophthalmologists who conceived and birthed the National Eye Institute (NEI), later serving on its prestigious National Advisory Eye Council. He was also involved in the formative years of the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences committees relating to vision.


Art was the recipient of many prestigious awards throughout his life. These included, to name only a few: American Academy of Ophthalmology Award of Merit; American Academy of Ophthalmology Senior Honor Award; Claffy Medal (and lecture), Department of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney, Australia, 1988; Association for Research in Vision Ophthalmology Mildred Weisenfeld Award for Excellence in Ophthalmology, 2002; a listing as “one of best ophthalmologists in America,” Ophthalmology Times national survey,1996; Philip M. Corboy Memorial Award (and Lecture) for Distinguished Service in Ophthalmology, Hawaiian Eye Foundation, Maui, Hawaii, 2003; Lucien Howe Medal, The American Ophthalmological Society, 2004. He was also inducted into the Berkeley Optometry Hall of Fame.


For his contributions to blindness and low vision rehabilitation, he was awarded the Lions Humanitarian Award for 1993-94. Its citation reads “This award is the highest honor of the association given to an individual or an organization with exemplary humanitarian efforts.” Recipients in other years have included Mother Teresa and Jimmy Carter.


He gave unselfishly of his time and attention to help hundreds of others in their careers. His energy and work ethic were simply unparalleled, setting an example for all to aspire to. His dictation alone kept several secretaries busy full time. As he used to say when someone would plead insufficient time to do something he wanted, “There are 24 hours in the day, and then there’s the night!” Upon his “official” retirement party, when he was in his 80’s, Art famously pledged “I plan on being old, mean, and un-killable!” Much later, his children could always get a smile out of him by reminding him of that statement and saying, “Hey Pop, you’re three for three!” He was working actively until his 100th year, after which he did slow down … just a little.


Art lucked out and married Pan Am stewardess Margaret (Peggy) Crew Degnan in 1957. At Peggy’s insistence, the Jampolsky family moved from the Tiburon hills to the Belvedere Lagoon in 1968. After 58 years of marriage, Peggy passed away in 2015. They are survived by their three children, Michael and his spouse Mia, David and his spouse Camille, and Eve Jampolsky Miller (her husband Rick passed away in 2010), along with grandchildren Jessica, David-Arthur, Rachael, Lucas, and Billy.


Anyone who was ever connected with Art, whether as family, friend, or colleague, will long feel the void left by the passing of such a towering presence, and forever remain in awe of his massive impact upon so many individuals and so many fields of human endeavor.


Art passed one month shy of his 102nd birthday, at home and surrounded by his family. He was a wonderful father and grandfather. He was loving and supportive and surprisingly, never short of advice. People always used to ask his kids, “Why didn’t any of you follow in your father’s footsteps?” We always had to smile and say, “Simple, because they were way too big and far too far apart!” We are so very proud of the man he was and the life he lived, and we will miss him always!

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