For those who need a reminder of how fragile life can be, the untimely death on Friday of Dr. Jerry Poland in a fatal traffic accident in Wyoming provided an unfortunate reminder.
Poland, co-founder of the Crosby Eye Clinic, was a strong and vital presence in the community, from his innovations in eye care to his consistent role as a supporter of Central Lakes College (CLC) and a variety of area charities including Kinship Partners. Crosby Eye Clinic, an entity that’s part of a busy medical campus in that community, employs 46 people and has clinics in Baxter, Remer and Emily. It also has additional outreach at clinics in McGregor, Onamia, Staples, and with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
A pioneer in research on contact lenses, Poland was one of the first doctors to perform a procedure known as Automated Lameller Keratoplasty, a precursor to LASIK vision correction. He owned the first approved laser for eye care in the state of Minnesota.
Poland was 75 at the time of his death but his busy professional life and wide-ranging interests gave him the bearing of a much younger man. Poland appreciated fine wine and it was commonplace for bottles from his personal collection to be donated as auction items at area charity fundraisers.
Singer Tony Sandler performed Sept. 15 at CLC as a fundraiser for the Central Lakes College Foundation at the invitation of his friend, Poland. Diane Scearcy, former CLC Foundation director, said Poland’s concern for students went beyond fundraising, recalling a time when he helped a student buy a used car so that young person could attend classes at the college.
People such as Poland are truly what make this area a great place to live. His life and generous actions serve as a model for all of us.