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Former AOA President Dies

He was 74.




Dr. Donald E. Jarnagin

Dr. Donald E. Jarnagin

Dr. Donald E. Jarnagin, who served as the 74th president of the American Optometric Association in 1995-96, has died at age 74.

He passed away following a long battle with cancer while on a mission trip in Guatemala, according to AOA.

The Peoria, AZ, resident was known not only for his professional leadership, but also “for being an ardent champion for students, faculty and staff alike as Midwestern University (MWU) Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT) dean.”

“Optometry was just perfect for me,” Jarnagin said in a StoryCorps interview recorded by the Optometric Historical Society on Feb. 22.

“I feel that I sat on the shoulders of those who came before me and I was able to say, ‘OK, here’s what we can do,'” he said. “I could see a brighter future for optometry — not that it was a bad place — but to improve the patient care in the communities that we served, that’s what I wanted to do.”


Jarnagin served as Arizona Optometric Association president in 1977-78. He spent more than 30 years in private practice, caring for the community of Glendale and the West Valley, before starting a new chapter as optometric educator and leader, AOA explains.

In 2007, Jarnagin joined AZCOPT faculty and began providing care at the MWU Multispecialty Clinic. Only three years later, he would be appointed as interim dean-later, dean-of the college. He Jarnagin championed efforts for full accreditation; established new rotations, residencies and external clinics; and inaugurated the MWU Eye Institute, AZCOPT notes. He led the college until his retirement in 2016.

“His caring and affectionate nature, and his infectious, mischievous laugh that seemed to be always waiting just around the corner, made him impossible not to love,” Dr. Joshua Baker, AZCOPT dean, was quoted saying.

Memorial services for Jarnagin are pending.

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