Celebrating the Career of Lorraine Lombardi, PhD

Lombardi TalesFrom 1968 to 2018, Dr. Lombardi taught gross and neuro anatomy, first to Pennsylvania College of Optometry students, and once Salus University was established, to students across all programs. Many former students of Dr. Lorraine Lombardi attended her last Continuing Education (CE) presentations as a PCO/Salus faculty member in PA, NC, and NJ before her official June 2018 retirement. At the receptions that followed the CE’s conclusion, alumni and colleagues had the opportunity to share their thoughts and stories, some of which are funny, some of which are touching,but all are filled with admiration and love for Dr. Lombardi.

Holly Myers, OD ’86, Salus PCO associate professor
"When I became a faculty member you were my role model to aspire to… you were kind, firm, and set high standards. Thank you from all the women who came through PCO."
Dr. Steve Reto ’87
A group that included Dr. Lombardi, PCO colleagues and students would frequently get together at Pino’s, a local pizza parlor. One night at Pino’s, Dr. Reto, Dr. Lombardi and the other Italian-Americans in the group decided to establish the Italian Optometric Society at PCO. With great solemnity, Dr. Reto said, “We even designed our own special plaque and pledged to it before every meeting” - before disclosing that it was a framed Pino’s menu signed by all the members. Everyone has many reasons to be thankful for Lorraine Lombardi.

Dr. Marie Marrone ’89
“Lorraine told me something I carry with me every day. She told me ‘everyone has a ten-foot wall around them that they can’t get over. You have to help them over the wall.’” Dr. Marrone told Dr. Lombardi, “I think of you all the time, and try to remember that wall when I am with my patients,” adding, “Lorraine, I wish you ten-inch walls for the rest of your life!”
Ray Osborn LombardiDr. Robert “Ray” Osborn ‘93
Already an electrical engineer who specialized in optics, Dr. Osborn’s mentor, Dr. Robert E. Bannon ’36, told him to “apply to all the optometry schools, but accept PCO, because that’s where you need to be.”  His first PCO class was gross anatomy with Dr. Lombardi. “Before PCO, I had never encountered questions or testing in the library,” he said, telling Dr. Lombardi that “your help got me through.”

Dr. Osborn also told of the time his music student neighbors gave him two tickets to New York City’s Metropolitan Opera for Luciano Pavarotti’s last performance there. He laughed as he recalled he couldn’t find any takers in his class, and how he despaired of finding someone to use the other ticket, when he saw Dr. Lombardi in a PCO hallway and invited her to go. It turned out that Dr. Lombardi had never been to the Met. She accepted invitation and the two opera fans went for what Dr. Osborn called a “wonderful, memorable afternoon.”

Dr. Sandra West ’93
After a December 28 fire destroyed her house and left her homeless, and her then eight-year old daughter became ill, Dr. West concluded that her only option was to withdraw from PCO and give up her dream of becoming an optometrist.

A single parent, she was trying to juggle serious personal crises, her studies, and upcoming exams. “I remember standing in a dark, cold hallway (the Oak Lane campus), ready to walk out and not come back. I had just had a meeting with another instructor - it did not go well. Out of nowhere – I still don’t know where you came from! – you came up to me, took my arm, led me into a classroom and said, ‘It’s going to be alright.’” Looking directly at Dr. Lombardi, Dr. West continued, “You told me to stand still and breathe. I did. It might have been my choice (to go to optometry school as a single parent), but it was our journey.”

Carlo Pelino ’94, Chief, The Eye Institute, Chestnut Hill 
Dr. Pelino recalls first meeting Dr. Lombardi in 1990 as a first-year optometry student. “She walked into our first day of class and both of her arms were full of poison ivy. She never missed a beat.” He notes that Dr. Lombardi “taught us all to strive for perfection in our areas of expertise and to be the best doctor we can be… she taught in a very organized fashion and her tests were extremely tough; however, we didn't want to let her down.”
He called Dr. Lombardi – the-teacher tough, respected, and fun. As a person she was “humble, caring, and warm... She has made an impact on so many doctors and individuals. She turned a tough topic into something that we wanted to study and excel at.”

Dr. Kelly Malloy ’98, Chief, Neuro-Ophthalmic Diseases, The Eye Institute
Kelly Malloy met Dr. Lombardi in the fall of 1992 as a first-year student at PCO. She said, “all it took was a few Dr. Lombardi anatomy lectures to make me decide that, for certain, there was no looking back. I was captivated by Gross Anatomy and Neuroanatomy, and by the brilliant professor who made it so interesting and - on a daily basis - showed how this was directly applicable to patient care.” Dr. Malloy remembered thinking, “If this is what optometry could be, I definitely want that to be my career!”

Today, twenty-five years later, Dr. Malloy is an optometrist who specializes in neuro-ophthalmic disease. She said, “On a daily basis, I am using what Dr. Lombardi initially taught me years ago.”
Dr. Malloy also spoke of the benefits of having Dr. Lombardi as a colleague and notes, “… most optometry students had the good-fortune of having Dr. Lombardi as a teacher for a few years… I can say that I was truly blessed to have Lorraine as a teacher and mentor for a few decades.” She was “fortunate to lecture with Dr. Lombardi in international programs and CE events,” and is “… only just beginning to realize the significance of the impact that Lorraine has had on my life.”
Dr. Malloy now takes on the “insurmountable task” of trying to fill Dr. Lombardi’s instructor’s shoes by teaching the Head and Neck, and Neuroanatomy courses to first year students at Salus. She said she realizes now that her optometric career has “come full circle…from taking Lorraine’s courses to teaching Lorraine’s courses.”

“I hope I can positively influence at least one student as much as Lorraine has influenced me,” she said, adding, “Lorraine started out as my teacher, then she became my colleague, but even more importantly, I also have the honor of calling her my friend.”

Have your own Lombardi tale to share? We want to share it! 

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