Michael A. Sawyers
CUMBERLAND — After 50 years and 127,200 eye examinations, Dr. James Poland has retired from the Lifetime Eyecare Center in downtown Cumberland.
“A labor of love. I have loved my job so much, I never really felt that I worked a day in my life,” Poland said. “I am pleased that I have provided eye care to four generations of countless families, loyal patients not only from Cumberland, but from Meyersdale, Salisbury, Keyser and other area towns.”
Poland, now 80, and still a Frostburg resident, was a student at Beall High School when he began working as an optician for Dr. Walter E. Jeffries in the Mountain City at Jeffries Brothers Jewelers and Optometrists.
“I knew I would go to work with Dr. Jeffries when I graduated from Illinois College of Optometry,” Poland said. That happened in 1960 and would eventually allow the business, transitioning to Lifetime Eyecare Center, to be recognized as the oldest, continuously operating optometric practice in the country.
“I’m leaving the practice in good hands,” Poland said during an interview at the Times-News on Monday. “I would put them up against anybody in the country,” Poland said of those who will carry on.
His son, Jeffrey, and Katelin Zaluski are full-time optometrists and Brian Manspeaker is part-time.
Lisa is our secret weapon, Poland said, referring to Jeff’s wife, the office manager. “She keeps everything together and moving in the right direction.”
Poland said the staff considers themselves to be a family caring for other families.
Before opening the existing offices at 2 Frederick St. in 1997, the Lifetime practice was just across Mechanic Street.
“I told the contractor that if he felt somebody looking over his shoulder as he worked that it was me on the other side of Mechanic Street,” Poland said.
Jim and Judy Poland, married for 56 years, have six grandchildren in four locations; College Park, Mt. Airy, Seattle and Akron, Ohio.
“We’ll do some traveling,” he said of the future, adding that a cruise is in the offing.
Poland’s community involvement is voluminous and includes Ali Ghan Shrine Temple, Frostburg United Methodist Church, Allegany County Chamber of Commerce and Frostburg Elks Lodge. He served on the Frostburg Planning and Zoning Committee for eight years.
In 2009, Lifetime Eyecare Center was named the chamber’s Small Business of the Year. Poland has been the president of the Maryland Optometric Association.
The Frostburg State University graduate was named the association’s Optometrist of the Year in 1976.
Contact Michael A. Sawyers at firstname.lastname@example.org.