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Remembering Richard L. Kasper, 1919-2016

Dr. Richard L Kasper passed away on March 29, 2016 at the age of 96. Dr. Kasper lived a long and fulfilled life dedicated to his Christian faith, his family, his medical profession and to his Armenian heritage.

He was born Dicran Kasparian on a small farm in Fresno, California in 1919 to immigrant parents who had recently arrived from Armenia. Dicran’s father became a tailor and while growing up Dicran worked with his father in the business. His family was deeply involved in the Armenian community and the Armenian Trinity Church in Fresno. Armenian was spoken in the home; it wasn’t until Dicran went to elementary school at the age of six that he was first exposed to English. His mother told him from a very early age that he would grow up to become a doctor. He excelled in science and first enrolled at Fresno State for two years before transferring to University of California Berkeley School of Optometry. WWII was just beginning when he was accepted into medical school at the University of Southern California. He joined the Navy V12 program to help with his education and was stationed in Long Beach. During his second year of medical school he met Elizabeth (Betty) Avedisian at the Gethsemane Armenian Church in Los Angeles. Elizabeth had just arrived from Detroit, Michigan. They were married the following year, and were married for 65 years until her passing in 2010.

Dr. Kasper continued his medical training at USC where he did his Internship and Residency, during which time he joined the Army Residency Program. Upon completion of his training, the Korean War had begun and Dr. Kasper was sent overseas to Japan. He spent a year stationed at the main Army hospital at Yokohama while his wife remained in Burbank with two small children.

In 1954, Dr. Kasper began his private practice as an Ophthalmologist in Burbank, California. He gradually built up a large practice, later bringing in two other ophthalmologists who continued to grow the practice, now known as Berg Feinfield Vision Correction.

Dr. Kasper was involved throughout his career with the Doheny Eye Institute at USC (now at UCLA) and became a full Clinical Professor of Ophthalmology. He was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award by the Doheny Eye Institute in 1996. He also served as President of the Los Angeles Society of Ophthalmology. Dr. Kasper practiced Ophthalmology in Southern California for over 50 years. He and his wife lived the last 30 years in Newport Beach, although Dr. Kasper continued to go to his office in Burbank well into his 80s.

In 1986, Dr. Kasper first travelled to Armenia, then a satellite of the Soviet Union, to help bring training and equipment in the field of ophthalmology to the hospital in Yerevan. There he met Dr. Alex Malayan, the head eye surgeon. When he returned to California, he started an organization with Dr. Vartkes Najarian called Medical Outreach of Armenia. Two years later, he was able to bring Dr. Malayan from Yerevan to California to train beside him. Dr. Malayan spent three months staying with Dr. Kasper, participating in surgery, attending meetings at Doheny and making important contacts. Dr. Kasper introduced Dr. Malayan to Dr. Roger Ohanesian of the Harvard Eye Institute in Laguna Beach. This led to Dr. Ohanesian also becoming involved in medical outreach in Armenia, and ultimately to his founding of the Armenian Eyecare Project, a major medical outreach program providing outstanding medical care to the people of Armenia.

Dr. Kasper was equally involved in the Christian community of Southern California. He was an elder at Hollywood Presbyterian Church, involved with Young Life and Campus Crusade, as well as leading men’s Bible studies at Master’s Men in Burbank. When he moved to Newport Beach, he started a Sunday School class at Mariner’s Church, which he taught for 18 years. He continued to teach well into his 90s both at Mariner’s and at St. Mary’s Armenian Church in Costa Mesa.

Dr. Kasper was 90 years old when his dear wife Betty passed away. He continued to live in his home in Harbor Ridge, and continued his activities at his church, in the medical community and with his family. He stayed healthy and active, visiting friends in need, and going to the gym everyday to walk on the treadmill and spend time socializing with gym friends. He also continued to teach a small group at the Armenian Church and to witness of his faith in God’s love wherever he went.

Dr. Kasper is survived by his son, Dennis Kasper and his wife Jodi, their two daughters, Ashleigh and Alexandra Kasper; and by his daughter, Marilyn Beck, her husband Jeff, and her two children Lori and Matt Davis, Matt’s wife Courtney and their two children Luke and Theo Davis.

There will be a Memorial Service for Dr. Kasper on April 30, 2016 at Mariner’s Church, Irvine in the Chapel at 10:00 am with a luncheon to follow in the Upper Room at the church. For more information you may email mdb@nullbecktrustee.com.