‘Eye’-conic Exeter optometrist retires after 50 years

(Rigo Moran)

Dr. Robert Narahara leaves behind legacy of care, community involvement as he retires to focus on family

EXETER – A local optometrist who has done his best to see through the eyes of his patients for several decades has finally decided it’s time to hang up his lens.

At the end of March, beloved optometrist Dr. Robert Narahara retired after 50 years of serving the community of Exeter. After treating generations of local families, Narahara chose to fully step away from his practice at the age of 77. He said there are a few reasons he chose to step down, but an important one is to focus more on his wife’s medical issues.

“Next phase of life is obviously being with my family and my wife,”  Narahara said. “A few years ago my wife had a stroke, and she needs some extra care.”

When he is not with his wife, Narahara is planning to focus on other things he enjoys to stay active after his retirement, including golf, fishing and spending time with his grandkids.

“I’ve taken on a lot of grandpa duties,” he said.

After half a century of serving the community, Narahara said the highlights of his optometrist career are his patients.

“I love them all,” Narahara said. “They’re all special. And as for the highlights over the years, it’s not one particular thing. It’s all the patients over all these years that I’ve seen once or 50 times.”

According to the practice’s office manager Paulina Lopez, Dr. Narahara was always very involved in the community, and has been a part of the Exeter Kiwani Club for years. Still, Narahara said the community work he is the most proud of is his work with patients and getting to treat generations of locals.

He explained that being there for the community and making people feel good was one of the reasons he became an optometrist. When he was first looking for a career to settle on, he considered dentistry, but chose against it because he wanted people to feel good when coming to see him.

“There’s no pain, there’s no trauma involved in going to see an optometrist,” Narahara said. “I always treated everybody as though they’re unique. You learn how people’s health is by knowing who they are. That’s part of it.”

His active role in the community and long history of treating Exeter has made it difficult for many of the patients to say goodbye, according to Lopez.

“One patient cried, and other patients – they’re just sad because they’re so used to him,” Lopez said. “But we have to kind of talk them off the ledge and remind them he has to retire at one point.”

After working with Narahara for 33 years, Lopez gave some insight into what it was like for the staff at the clinic to say goodbye after working with Narahara for so long.

“I’m always gonna cherish having him as a boss,” Lopez said. “We miss him, all his patients miss him. And aside from that he was a great doctor.”

Once he decided to start the transition to retirement, Narahara chose to sell his half of the business and lessen his hours to make time for other things. Now he is no longer practicing optometry and is leaving the fate of the business to Dr. Terence Miller and Dr. Judy Ransberger.

Even though Narahara said he will miss working at the clinic, he knows he is leaving the practice in good hands. After all, the practice was started by James E. Miller, the father of the current Dr. Miller. When Narahara started working at the clinic in 1972, The current Dr. Miller, Terence, had just graduated high school.

Years later, James died suddenly of a heart attack. Around that same time, Terence Miller had finished school and had already been practicing optometry in the area. Together, the two of them have treated generations in the community. Narahara explained that he has seen up to five generations of the same family walk through the office doors for treatment.

“I saw someone when they were 10 years old and I’ve been there for 50 years. That 10 year old is now 60 years old. That’s a highlight,” Narahara said.

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