Former Proctor Foundation Director Dies

G. Richard O'Connor

G. Richard O'Connor, MD, who was widely regarded as one of the world's leading authorities on uveitis, inflammation of the eye, died after suffering cardiac arrest on Aug. 9, 2007. He was 78. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, Aug. 23, at 2:30 p.m. at Lakeside Presbyterian Church, Eucalyptus Dr. at 19th Avenue, in San Francisco. O'Connor was a noted researcher, a highly respected clinician and a beloved teacher. He joined the faculty of the Department of Ophthalmology at UCSF in 1962, eventually serving as director of the Francis I. Proctor Foundation for Research in Ophthalmology from 1970 to 1984. Throughout his career, O'Connor received a number of prestigious awards in recognition of his contributions to the field of ophthalmology. In particular, he contributed to a better understanding of ocular toxoplasmosis, which is caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. In the field of education, O'Connor trained many ophthalmologists, who now practice throughout the United States and numerous countries around the world. Among his many personal attributes was his dedication to education and to the welfare of his students. Gary N. Holland, MD, the David May II Professor of Ophthalmology at the UCLA School of Medicine, Jules Stein Institute, says he was fortunate to have trained with O'Connor as a fellow at UCSF from 1983 to 1984. "He was really remarkable for his dedication to students and his support of their careers," says Holland. "He showed a real interest in the people that he trained. For example, he encouraged me during the 20-plus years that I've been at UCLA. He had been helping me with a couple of projects dealing with toxoplasmosis. His knowledge was encyclopedic." O'Connor graduated from Harvard University in 1950, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and trained at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he earned the Janeway Prize as highest-ranking medical student in the Class of 1954. After completing a residency in ophthalmology at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, he underwent additional training, first at the National Institutes of Health, and then as a US Public Health Service research fellow at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and at the State Serum Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark. O'Connor mastered several languages, and traveled to more than 80 countries. After his retirement, he started a second career becoming an avid archaeologist and spent many summers digging in Greece. He is survived by his brother, Robert, and nieces Diane and Susan O'Connor, all of Cincinnati, OH; his nephew, David O'Connor, of Appleton, Wl; and his life partner, Willem N. Beringer, of Sausalito, CA. O'Connor's remains will be taken to Cincinnati for a family burial.