Marie Yearbook PhotoWhile awaiting the completion of their daughter Marie Marrone’s interview with Dr. Lorraine Lombardi in the winter of 1984, Mr. and Mrs. Marrone sat in the lobby of what was eventually to be named Fitch Hall, where the Admissions and Student Affairs Offices were located at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO). 

A gentleman walked by and said, “Oh, hi. Are you here for an interview?”

“No, not me, our daughter is interviewing,” said Mrs. Marrone with a smile.

The man sat down with the Marrones and continued the conversation, speaking at length about PCO, and answering any questions the parents might have about their daughter continuing her education there. The Marrones were impressed by the extremely knowledgeable man, an unassuming sort who presented himself as warm, welcoming, approachable and willing to sit down and take the time to speak at length with them.

As the conversation drew to a close, Mrs. Marrone said, “Do you teach here?”

“No, actually I’m the president,” answered Melvin Wolfberg, OD ’51, FAAO, PCO president from 1979 to 1989.

“My parents were floored. He didn’t introduce himself as the president. It wasn’t until my mother asked that he shared that information,” recalled Dr. Marrone-Moriarty, OD ’89. “Considering they were paying the tuition, that helped make their decision. It was a very wise move on Dr. Wolfberg’s part. I had it in my head that if I were accepted, I would go to PCO regardless. But that experience with Dr. Wolfberg sealed the deal with my parents.”

MarieMarroneMoriartyAfter graduation, Dr. Marrone-Moriarty moved back home to New York and did a residency at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry. She joined the faculty there as an assistant clinical professor, and became director of the Head Trauma Unit until 1995. Currently, she consults at two schools for the deaf in New York City. Although she is no longer living in Philadelphia, her connection to PCO is never far away.

From 2002 to 2004, Dr. Marrone-Moriarty served as the Salus University Alumni Association president and from 2005 to 2006, as the alumni representative to the PCO Board of Trustees.

“I was surprised when I was asked initially, I guess because I’m from New York,” she said. “Not that I had lost touch with the University, I just thought they would be thinking of someone more local. I was honored to be asked to serve on the board, and then ultimately as president, of the alumni association.”

Dr. Thomas L. Lewis ’70, was president of the University at the time Dr. Marrone-Moriarty served the alumni association, and taught Ocular Biology when she was at PCO. Getting to know a “different” Dr. Lewis as member of the Board of Trustees was a great experience.

“I got to know him in a different capacity,” she said. “It was interesting to learn about and see the inner workings and decision-making that went into program changes at the College. And they had just moved to the Elkins Park campus, and that was exciting for me.”

Dr. Marrone-Moriarty has spent a good portion of her career consulting for two schools for the deaf in New York City, which she said has been extremely rewarding. When her kids were younger, they used to take her to their respective schools for Career Day. She called herself either “Dr. Marrone” or “Mrs. Moriarty” so as not to confuse people, although the other children who knew her children realized that she was an optometrist. Because she worked in a school for the deaf, it became confusing for some of the youngsters.

Dr. Moriarty and Peers
“A kid would say, ‘I don’t understand, why would you be working with kids who are deaf if you’re an eye doctor?’ And I’d always say, ‘Well, children that are deaf probably need eye care more than children that can hear because if you’re already limited in one of your senses, you don’t want to be limited in a second sense,’” said Dr. Marrone-Moriarty.

Through it all, she’s been able to successfully balance her home and career life, which has led to her always reminding herself and others of a bit of advice Dr. Lombardi once passed along to her as a PCO student: everyone in life has a 10-foot wall.

“She doesn’t remember giving me this advice, but I remember her saying at the time that everybody in life has a 10-foot wall,” said Dr. Marrone-Moriarty. “You may look at someone else’s wall and it might appear like it’s only 10 inches high. And, you think to yourself, ‘What are they complaining about; they have such a cushy arrangement. Or, conversely, another person’s wall may appear 100 feet high and insurmountable, and you may wonder how they even get up in the morning.”

The point, according to Dr. Marrone-Moriarty, is that you shouldn’t judge anyone else’s wall. “Basically, don’t be judgmental of other people because good, bad or otherwise, everyone has their challenges in life they have to overcome each day,” she said.

Alumni Reunion
And, that translates particularly to patients.

“Never take any complaint or difficulty that’s shared with you for granted and assume you know how it affects the person’s life,” she said. “Someone may say their reading glasses are blurry and you shouldn’t think to yourself, ‘That’s no big deal, I can take care of that.’ The patient’s description of what their problem is very serious and important to them, no matter how easy a fix it might seem to us.”