“I don’t care what they say kid, I think you’re doing a great job.”

Those words constantly resonate in my mind. In a great way. In a powerful way. In a funny way. And I use that exact phrase with others often when I want to deliver a message of confidence and compliment warmed by humor to a friend or work colleague.

Robert A. Amato (Bob A) was the person who said it to me in reaction to one of my initial offbeat story approaches in 20/20 about a decade and a half ago. Bob A founded this magazine. Founded is actually weak in describing what 20/20’s original president and publisher accomplished, creating a source of media and message vision in an arena of products, services, care and education dedicated to vision.

When Bob Amato premiered this magazine in September of 1974 the optical industry was on the verge of massive changes. Survival for his publishing brainchild needed to be built on an intricate yet sturdy platform of integrity, commitment and foresight. No problem for Bob A since he was, in fact, infused with... integrity, commitment and FORESIGHT.

When he peeked into my office to offer that seemingly left-handed comment, it delivered the exact dollop of smiles and sass needed to build on the very foundation he injected into 20/20 every second of every day of his life. It was his mantra: Foresee the future and construct the perfect bridge to get to that future AND bring a swell of optical players along for the ride. It was a man promising the Promised Land and then populating that “sight” with well-informed readers, optical professionals, vendors, educators and manufacturers.

Bob A built the windows in a house of vision. He reminded all to keep those windows clean and open to new and bright ideas from all points of view.

I don’t care what they say Bob. We would be nowhere today without you. Your vision was perfect. It was 20/20. It is 20/20. And, dedicated to you, it will always be YOUR 20/20. Great job. We miss you.  

—James J. Spina

Donations in Robert A. Amato’s memory can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project at woundedwarriorproject.org or the Smile Train at smiletrain.org.