The origins of the North Carolina Opticians Association can be traced back to 1935 when several young men from the optical business gathered to talk about their profession and the future. They met to talk about the common problems that faced working opticians every day, and soon began to understand that they would eventually have a voice in legislation concerning their industry.
By 1947 they were strong enough and had the foresight to prepare a bill to be presented to the legislature. This bill would ask that Opticianry be a licensed and regulated profession so that the consumer would be assured of a qualified professional when they purchased eyeglasses. Their group, which included Herb Ridgeway, Jr., Frank McBryde, William Fluharty, Jack Southerland and Vinnie Smith, presented their bill to two consecutive legislative sessions but were unsuccessful in getting the bill passed.
In those days they had no lawyers, no lobbyist – just their own precious time during which they closed their businesses or left jobs without pay and sometimes under great duress from their bosses. The group decided to skip the 1949 legislative session and concentrate on becoming stronger. They called, wrote and put notices in all North Carolina newspapers to encourage all those in the profession to unite forces. With great effort the North Carolina Opticians Association was formed.
In 1950 the hard work finally paid off when draft legislation was introduced to the legislature and a bill providing for the licensing of Opticians was passed into law.
Because of these dedicated men and the good people that have followed, we have had a strong and effective Association of Opticians for over fifty years.