A few years after the end of World War II, Abe Price brought his family over the Atlantic Ocean to the U.S. from war-torn Germany, bringing with them nothing but a suitcase.
Now, more than 60 years later, his son Dr. Herb Price credits father Abe for the habits that this year helped garner him the Logansport-Cass County’s Businessman of the Year award.
Herb Price, a Logansport optometrist and founder of Price and Shepler Family Eye Care, was just 5 years old when his family moved from Germany to Goshen, where they had sponsors who helped with the expenses and challenges of establishing the family as naturalized U.S. citizens.
It was a big change for Abe Price, who’d just spent years escaping from the Holocaust.
Eventually the family wound up near South Bend, where Abe Price became manager of a shoe store, following in the footsteps of his own father, who had owned a shoe store and shoe factory in Germany.
“I think my father taught me an awful lot,” said Herb Price. “Even though he’s 90 years old, he still lectures to college and high school students about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. He continues to give back today and I think I inherited some of those strengths.”
Abe Price emphasized respect for others, said Herb Price, no matter their religious beliefs or the color of their skin. “I use his philosophy in my practice,” said Herb Price.
A representative of the optometrist received the chamber award on his behalf at the chamber’s annual dinner Nov. 8. He was chosen from a pool of nominees by a secret committee separate from the chamber’s board of directors.
Herb Price and his two siblings earned bachelor’s degrees at Indiana University, and Herb Price went on to complete his doctor of optometry degree in 1971. He began practicing in Logansport with Howard Eye Care, an arm of the former St. Joseph Hospital, which became Miller’s Merry Manor in 1984.
Upon beginning to practice in Logansport, he also joined the Logansport Rotary Club — a membership he’s kept up, making him the longest-active Logansport Rotarian at 41 years.
When Howard Eye Care closed about three years after Herb Price joined the practice, he opened his own practice in Logansport, buying half of his practice’s current building in about 1980 and purchasing the rest of the building a few years later.
He brought on partner Dr. Kathy Shepler in 1989, a move he says was one of the best he’s taken in the years he’s run the optometry office.
Shepler, a Logansport native, “brought in a certain expertise in both low-vision and geriatric care ... We consult with each other all the time on difficult cases,” said Herb Price. “Having another set of eyes, so to speak.”
Eye care isn’t just a career for Herb Price. He enjoys it, he said. “I always have. I still do, and I’m finally getting good at it,” he added, smiling.
He’s a member of the board of directors of the Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation and IU Optometry Alumni. He’s also part of the Indiana Optometry Association and the American Optometric Association. His and Shepler’s practice regularly collects eyeglasses for the Indiana Lions Club and supports Dr. Dennis Cowley, a Winamac optometrist currently practicing in Montrouis, Haiti, with a Christian medical relief organization.
Herb Price sits on the board of directors of the Cass County Community Foundation, too. “I think being able to provide educational opportunities for students in the future is going to be very, very important.”
The optometry practice has grown recently. About six years ago, the pair opened an office in Rochester, which now is open three days per week, connecting patients with two other optometrists in addition to Drs. Price and Shepler. The newest optometrist, Dr. Karisa Donaldson, joined the practice this summer.
Besides his father’s influence, Herb Price credits the other doctors and the staff that keep the practice humming for the recognition he gained this year.
“You don’t become businessman of the year on your own,” he said. “You have to have a lot of help from some really great people.”
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151. Twitter: @PharosSME