GARDEN CITY — A few very simple and noble traits defined Luther Fry from the day he began practicing ophthalmology in southwest Kansas. This month, he celebrates 41 years working in the practice.


Fry’s medical practice "was like a ministry to him," said Eugene Kemper, technical auditor and facility manager at Fry Eye Associates. "He took care of a lot of people who couldn’t pay. He was very generous."


Starting in Dodge City in 1974 and moving in 1978 to Garden City, Luther and Ardis Fry built a practice considered to be among the best in North America, doing cataract surgeries on patients from as far away as Pakistan and Caracas, Venezuela. In the early days of intraocular lens implants, some of the more "conservative" practices on the East Coast prompted some referrals to Fry.


"He left no stone unturned. When patients walked out of that (clinic), they were thoroughly examined," he said. "When Dr. Fry went to meetings, he was there to learn and look at the new equipment. He would buy the first issuing of a new piece of technology, even though he knew that in four years, it would be four times better (and would be replaced)."


Luther Fry is well-known for his work ethic, and his passion for ophthalmology.


"My dad has always been a super hard worker, six to seven days a week," said Eric Fry, his eldest son and, for 12 years, a partner in the practice.


Being able to restore sight has proven fulfilling.


"The thought of having happy patients was one of the main drivers," he said. "It’s amazing. Somebody comes in and they have bilateral mature cataracts and can only see light and dark. You do a great procedure on them, and immediately afterward, they can see. You’re able to bring it all back."


Folks have flocked to the Fry Eye clinic from all over the continent, both as patients and partners.


"Luther proves the theory that if you do something extremely well, people will beat a path to your door," said Bill Clifford, an ophthalmologist who joined Fry in 1995.


"He focused on cataract surgery and became one of the best in the world at it," Clifford said. "He’s not just a practitioner, but an innovator."


Luther "created the environment and set the bar to create excellence," Clifford said, and what endures is "a culture of excellence."