Through My Lens

Looking Back at Joe

I’m sitting here holding a copy of Joe Bruneni’s masterpiece, “Looking Back,” the best book ever written about the history of the optical industry. As I thumb through the pages and read Joe’s words, I remember the hard work he put into it, and how happy he was to finally share his vast knowledge of companies, people and products with the rest of the industry.

We lost Joe on March 5, his 79th birthday, following a battle with cancer. He was a friend, colleague and mentor who taught and encouraged me as well as many others. Joe contributed so much to this industry on so many levels it’s hard to sum it all up in the space of a column.

During the course of his four-decade career, Joe was a lab owner, journalist, author, teacher, promoter, PR man, marketing consultant and historian. His fascination with all things optical was never-ending, and that gave him a perpetually youthful outlook. He wanted to know all about any new product or technology that came along, and how labs, eyecare practitioners and consumers could benefit from it. Most of my conversations with Joe started out with one of us asking the other, “Hey, did you hear about that new…”

Joe was a guru, a respected elder of the optical tribe, but he wore his mantle lightly. He was modest about his knowledge and willing to share what he knew with anyone who asked. He treated others with respect, no matter how much or how little they knew about optical. That’s why his students at the Southern California College of Optometry loved Joe, as well as the readers of the various trade publications, including Frames LabTalk, for which he wrote dozens of articles and columns over the years.

Joe was also a superb idea man. One of his best ideas was to create the OLA’s Awards of Excellence, a first-class event that each year brings recognition to many suppliers and their products. I was glad that OLA finally gave Joe one of the awards a few years ago and followed up the next year by inducting him into its Optical Pioneers hall of fame.

Joe touched the lives of so many of us in this business. It’s impossible to calculate his impact. But I know when we’re looking back at our years in optical, we’ll remember Joe Bruneni, his wisdom, generosity and grace.

In the March L&T “Lens Choices”, we quoted a dispenser who made an incorrect reference to Seiko’s 1.67 Super Proceed Internal progressive. The lens is only available with factory AR, not Transitions. However, Seiko’s 1.67 Proceed and 1.67 Proceed II Short progressives do come in Transitions.

—Andrew Karp
Group Editor, Lenses and Technology