Who's Who: Dr. Onofrey Rybachok
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Who's Who: Dr. Onofrey Rybachok

From Susan C. Oleszewski, OD - Class of ’76:

“For decades, Dr. Onofrey Rybachok (“Rybie”) enlightened hundreds of optometry students with the integration of basic anatomy into clinical correlates. He connected the dots for so many of us. In my stack of many PCO keepsakes I found a tape of Rybie. This lecture (posted below) is likely vintage 1972 or 73. Take a moment, listen to Rybie and reflect on what this optometric icon provided for so many of us. I hope it makes you smile."

Dr. Onofrey Rybachok joined the faculty of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) in 1937 and retired in 1978 as professor emeritus. He remained a revered professor of Anatomy and department head throughout his career, making a lasting impression on all his students. Dr. Rybachok's courses and teaching methods are legendary among alumni.  Whether in a lab or a lecture, his teaching always conveyed the excitement and love he felt for his specialty and his interest in and empathy for his students. In his early years at PCO, Dr. Rybachok taught in the Extra-Mural and Practitioners Educational Clinical Conferences, PCO’s first continuing educational programs. In 1985, he received a Special Recognition Award from the Alumni Association; the Onofrey G. Rybachok Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually, in addition to the Onofrey G. Rybachok Memorial Educator of the Year Award, which was established by Student Council following his retirement to commemorate his more than 40 years of excellence in teaching. Each year, it is presented to the instructor whom the students and faculty acknowledge as the most valuable academic professor across all programs.

Following his death on New Year’s Day 1990, the Fall issue of PCO World featured the article below as a nod to his lifelong commitment to PCO.

Group photo

Let’s Remember Rybie

Fall 1990 issue/PCO World  

“I shall always remember these days and the fine students it was my good fortune to teach and know. Many of them have accomplished outstanding work in their chosen areas.  I am very proud of this-because it is my contention that our profession does indeed attract some very talented and gifted individuals,” said Dr. Onofrey G. Rybachok, professor of Anatomy and life-long friend of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. 

The College is proud to announce the kick-off event for a fundraising campaign to honor Dr. Rybachok, one of the College’s most respected faculty emeriti who passed away on New Year’s Day, 1990. The event will be held on November 10, at Twelve Caesars in Philadelphia, Pa. 

Other receptions have been scheduled throughout Western Pa., Central Pa., Northeastern Pa., New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.

The College has initiated this fundraising project to show its appreciation for the dedication and professionalism Dr. Rybachok, or Rybie, as he was affectionately called, contributed to the College and to optometry. A steering committee of alumni and faculty are coordinating the fundraising efforts.  All alumni are encouraged to participate. 

Money raised through this kick-off and other regional receptions along with a direct mail appeal will be used to create the Onofrey G. Rybachok Scholarship Fund. The goal of this scholarship drive is $50,000.  Each year approximately $5,000 in scholarships will be distributed to deserving students in Dr. Rybachok’s name. 

Dr. Rybachok’s courses and teaching methods are legendary to alumni.  Whether in the laboratory in the lecture hall his teaching always conveyed the excitement and love he felt for his specialty. 

“It’s eight o’clock Monday morning; the subject is anatomy. The lecturer loves his subject, relishes teaching it, and knows it as well as he knows himself. He gesticulates emphatically.  His voice alternates between a hushed whisper and an earsplitting roar as he strives to explain the intricacy of the visual pathway and the nuances of the extrapyramidal system.”  Quoted from the dedication made to Dr. Rybachok in the 1967 issue of the Iris.

Dr. Rybachok DedicationPlease join the College for an evening of memories and memorabilia.  So far, the College has discovered a piece of vintage film showing Dr. Rybachok in his early years in the “cat lab”.  There is also an audio tape of an alumnus doing an impersonation of Rybie giving his famous contusion lecture. 

Dr. Rybachok left a lasting impression on all of his students.  “Without a doubt, no individual had more of an impact on the students at PCO from the 1930s through the 1970s than Rybie,” said Thomas L. Lewis, OD, PhD, ’70, President. 

The College is grateful to Rybie for his genuine interest and desire to teach his students well.  The faculty is proud to have had the opportunity to work with such a dedicated professional. 

Let’s remember Rybie together!