Obituary: James Boucher
March 27, 1937 – September 20, 2020
James A. “Jim” Boucher, much loved husband, father, and grandfather and an extraordinary optometrist passed away unexpectedly on September 20, 2020. A tremendous athlete, Jim ran a great race for 83 years, having accomplished more than most and leaving everyone and everything he touched better.
Born the first child of Harold and Marion Boucher, on March 27, 1937, Jim and his beloved sister, Barbara Boucher Owens, grew up in Wauseon, Ohio. Jim graduated from high school with a 4.0 average, played football, basketball and ran track, was an Eagle Scout, and was inducted into his high school’s Academic Hall of Fame. He attended Ohio Wesleyan University, graduating in 1961 with a degree in math and physics. In 1961, he graduated from the Southern College of Optometry (BS, OD) and promptly joined the US Air Force where he served as an Optometry Officer from 1961-64. Never one to take the ordinary path, Jim’s service included flying around the world in a B-52 bomber with an atomic bomb on board while assessing the pilot’s night vision.
Jim established the Snowy Range Vision Center in Laramie, Wyoming in 1966 and practiced there for 50 years. His practice and the doctors he mentored in Wyoming and throughout the country carry on his legacy of excellence.
In 2012 Jim was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame, the only member from Wyoming and one of only 61 inductees at the time. In his words, “What the Hall of Fame is honoring me for is contributing to my profession.” He was being far too modest: He was a pioneer in contact lens research; was president of the Wyoming Optometric Association from 1976-1978; was American Optometric Association Optometrist of the Year in 1978; served as an AOA Board of Trustees member from 1979-1982 and as Chair of the Contact Lens section from 1986-1987. He was a founder of the National Academy of Practice in Optometry (1983) and held honorary doctorates in ocular science from the New England College of Optometry (1986) and the Southern College of Optometry (2004). In 1995 Jim received the Harvey W. Wiley Medal and a special citation from the US Food and Drug Administration for 18-years of service as a member and consultant on the FDA’s Ophthalmic Devices Panel; in 1999 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern College of Optometry; and he was honored with the American Optometric Association CLCS Luminary Award for Distinguished Practice in 2011. This is only a small fraction of his many accomplishments.
Jim loved sports. He was an avid runner having run dozens of 5K’s, the Boston Marathon in 2002 (a feat immortalized by his fortuitous appearance in a front-page Boston Globe photo among a throng of finishers) and running three marathons to raise money for research for neurofibromatosis. He was a multi-medalist in the Senior Olympics, he biked across Wyoming, Colorado, and large portions of Europe, and he enjoyed both downhill and cross-country skiing.
His yearly hunting trips were the stuff of legends. Perhaps the best was in 2018 when, accompanied by his grandson Jonathan and one of his best friends, he shot a big horn sheep from 839 yards. Not bad for an 81-year-old guy with Parkinson’s. The sheep, now named Bubba, resides permanently in Jim’s Laramie home.
While Jim loved his life, it was his family he loved the most. He met his wife of 43 years, Marty Uhlmann, when he was a Wyoming legislator. She was lobbying for a cause. It turned out the cause was Jim. For the next four and half decades they were inseparable, living primarily in Laramie and Steamboat Springs, traveling the world, and drinking very good wine.
Jim was a wonderful father and mentor to his six children and to his grandchildren, a guiding post for all of life’s struggles and someone to rely on in the hardest of times. He was the source of most family moose humor and gave (generally) sage advice upon request. He is survived by his six children and nine grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister, Barbara Boucher-Owens. Jim’s family is enormously grateful for his life and the love, kindness, humility, and humor he brought to this world.
The family held a small private memorial in Laramie on September 26th. A community celebration of Jim’s life will be held in Laramie in the post-pandemic future. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Jim’s honor to one of two causes close to his heart:
•The American Academy of Optometry Foundation – https://www.aaopt.org/home/aaof/donate , then select a designation –the Bert C. and Lydia M. Corwin Fund, the Joe and Janet Barr Early Career Cornea and Contact Lens Research Fund, or another of your choice.
•Or, the Boucher-Uhlmann Optometry Scholarship Fund at the University of Wyoming -(http://www.uwyo.edu/giveonline, select View Individual UW Funds, select Other Fund Not Listed, then enter Boucher/Uhlmann Scholarship in the “Please Specify What Fund” box.
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