In Memory of a UB Philanthropist

ELIZABETH PIERCE OLMSTED ROSS, DSC í03 & MD í39, associate clinical professor emeritus in the Department of Ophthalmology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and a champion of issues related to the blind and visually impaired, died September 6, 2007, in Millard Fillmore Hospital, Buffalo. She was 92.

Olmsted Ross graduated from the UB medical school in 1939, becoming Western New Yorkís first female ophthalmologist. Throughout her career, she also worked as a military consultant investigating the effects of radar exposure on the eye, invented the diffraction lens used in the treatment of crossed and lazy eyes, authored numerous articles and served as president and chair of local and state professional societies.

One of the nationís first female pilots, Olmsted Ross may be best known for her philanthropy. For six decades she channeled her expertise into programs for the visually impaired, from instituting company safety goggles and making large-print books available in public schools to organizing vision-testing programs in Buffalo preschools.

She contributed millions of dollars to the UB medical school to establish the Ira G. Ross and Elizabeth P. Olmsted Ross, MD, Chair in Ophthalmology and the Ira G. Ross Eye Institute in honor of her late husband. She also donated to the Blind Association of Western New York, renamed in her honor the Elizabeth Pierce Olmsted, MD, Center for the Visually Impaired, to update its facility to state-of-the-art.

In recognition of her generosity, Olmsted Ross received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2004. Among her other numerous awards were the National Conference for Community and Justice of Western New York Lifetime Achievement Award, the Athena Award, UBís Distinguished Medical Alumna Award and the Samuel P. Capen Award, the UB Alumni Associationís highest honor. She received an honorary doctorate in science from SUNY in 2003.