Koeber retires after 40 year career in Wayne
When William A. Koeber moved to Wayne in 1948 to establish his Optometry practice, there was no way of knowing that his own son would one day follow in his footsteps and practice in the very same building years later.
For 40 years, Dr. Don Koeber has run a successful business as an Optometrist at Wayne Vision Center. His career has spanned leaps and bounds of technological advancements, something he hasn't taken for granted.
"When I first started practicing we knew what the eye diseases were but we weren't able to treat a lot of them," Koeber said. "That's not the case now."
Things were a little different when he finished schooling and began practicing in 1978 as far as technology and regulations are concerned, but one thing Koeber says has not changed over the years is how much he enjoyed the job.
"I think Optometry is a great profession. It's very rewarding and it's changed a lot over the years but I always have enjoyed the people. The patients are always the most important."
Koeber said he didn't know right away after high school what he wanted to do, in fact he worked several different jobs throughout high school and after graduating before deciding to pursue Optometry at the same college his father attended.
Koeber moved with his wife Claudia to Chicago to enroll in the Illinois College of Optometry in 1974. Aside from the four years he was living there, Koeber has always called Wayne home.
After graduating in May of 1978, Koeber returned to Wayne to begin practicing with his father. Koeber's plans of practicing along side his father were cut short, however.
"I was able to practice with him for a year before he passed away," he said. "He was diagnosed with cancer while I was in school."
The former Mayor of Wayne, council member and member of numerous boards and committees left a lasting impression of volunteerism and service to the community on his son.
"I don't know how he did it," Koeber said. "He was busy all the time but it was good. The community of Wayne is so supportive and it's easy to be active in it."
Koeber has been a member of Kiwanis since 1969 and has served as president of the organization. He is an active member of the United Methodist Church and has acted as president of the Wayne Country Club. He has also served aS president on both the Wayne State College Foundation and the Wayne Athletic Boosters Club in prior years.
In addition to those organizations, Koeber had two children, Todd and Kayla, who were both active in extracurricular activities at Wayne.
"Wayne has been a great community to raise kids in," he said. "It's a fun place to be."
Now, it's his grandkids who keep him busy, which is a big part of his retirement plans, he said. Grandkids and golfing.
"I'll spend time with my grandkids and I'll spend time golfing. It's one of my favorite things to do. I bowl in the winter and golf during the summer. I love to cook too. I have lots of cookbooks that go way back so I'll probably organize my collection."
One of Koeber's greatest accomplishments didn't come in the form of awards or accolades for his business, but was a personal triumph for him.
"Around 1998-99, I weighed over 300 pounds. I've lost 85 pounds since then. I did it slow and steady and I've kept it off. I really don't think I'd be alive today if I didn't loose the weight. It wasn't easy but I was able to get off some medications after loosing the weight."
Another proud moment for Koeber, this time involving his beloved career, was when two different employees of his decided they wanted to go on to be Optometrists themselves after working for Koeber.
During his time at Wayne Vision Center, an eye-catching mural was painted on the side of the building for the centennial celebration in 1984.
That mural brought together numerous community members, from Charles Carhart, who hand mixed all the paint, to Gary Van Meter, the organizer, and Carols Frey, the designer. Several community members came together to help paint it.
Over the last 30-plus years, wear and tear has taken it's toll on the once-vibrant mural, so Koeber was happy when Matt Ley began working on having it repainted.
Like the freshening up of the mural, the Wayne Vision Center will see some changes in the coming months with the new owners, but the vision remains the same in both situations.
New owners Dr. Ben Uhl and Dr. Tyler Lefeber with Sergeant Bluff Eye Care, will be operating the clinic as a satellite location and will likely be tweaking the name just a bit. But, Koeber said, their dedication to providing quality eye care is no different than his.
"I wanted to keep the business going and so do the new owners. They are quality doctors."
Koeber's retirement was official as of June 1, 2018 and will be celebrated at a retirement party on June 21 from 4-7 p.m. at the Beaumont.
"I enjoyed what I did. That's going to be the hard part. But the community has been so supportive all these years. I can't say thanks enough. I couldn't have done it all without my wife and the support in this community."
It doesn't take 20-20 vision to see that Dr. Don Koeber will be missed as Main Street's Optometrist just as much as he will miss practicing, but golf is a pretty good time too.