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ARONSFELD, GERSON HENRY

ARONSFELD, GERSON HENRY (1885–1947). Gerson Henry Aronsfeld, optometrist, writer, and lecturer, was born on May 5, 1885, in Samotschin, Prussia, and immigrated to Newark, New Jersey, with his family in 1891. When he was twelve he moved with his family to Austin, Texas, where he was apprenticed to a local jewelry firm at the age of fourteen. In 1903 he was briefly employed by E. Hertzberg Jewelry in San Antonio. Aronsfeld graduated from Northern Illinois College of Ophthalmology and Otology in 1903. He returned to Texas and was in charge of the optical department of Noble and Roempke in Galveston before beginning medical studies at the University of Texas Medical Branch. After two years he chose to resume optometric practice and organized the Galveston Optical Company with an associate. At this time Texas had no licensing examination for optometrists, but a license from another state was considered prestigious. In 1917 Aronsfeld passed the New Jersey Board of Optometry Examiners requirements for licensing at the head of the candidate class and returned to Galveston and private practice as sole proprietor of the Galveston Optical Company. In 1927 he moved his family and his practice to Houston.

Aronsfeld, who was elected president of the Texas Optometric Association in 1911 and 1919, led the TOA campaign for an optometric statute for Texas. He was appointed to the newly developed Texas State Board of Examiners in Optometry in 1921 and served until 1937. During all but two of those years he was president of the examining board. He was also an intellectual leader in the optometric profession. He began publishing in scientific and technical journals in 1917 and was a regular contributing editor of the Optical Journal and Review of Optometry of New York, The Refractionist of London, and the Optische Rundschau of Berlin. He lectured at the University of California at Berkeley and Ohio State University as well as before optometric societies. He received an honorary doctorate from Northern Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago.

Aronsfeld married Rose Fridner in Galveston on October 25, 1908; they had one daughter. Aronsfeld waged a bitter, unsuccessful battle against the infiltration of the Optometric Extension Program into the Texas Optometric Association. This fight and ill health led to despondency. Aronsfeld died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds in his Houston office on July 24, 1947, and was buried in Galveston. See also OPTOMETRY.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Weston A. Pettey, Optometry in Texas, 1900–1984 (Austin: Nortex, 1985).

Weston A. Pettey

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Weston A. Pettey, "ARONSFELD, GERSON HENRY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/far33), accessed April 19, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.