Obituaries


Benjamin Zeldes
Dr. Benjamin Zeldes, of Staffordville, CT, died on Friday (October 8, 2010). A developmental optometrist who pioneered in the use of pediatric vision therapy, Dr. Zeldes helped many children with vision problems and learning disabilities. He was a graduate of the University of Connecticut, the Illinois College of Optometry, and did post-graduate work at Yale's Gesell Institute of Child Development. Born in 1924 in New Britain to Louis and Gertrude Zeldes, Dr. Zeldes moved to Newington in 1959, where he maintained a private office for nearly 40 years, and was deeply gratified when his son, Ross, also an optometrist, joined his practice. A strong mentor, his enthusiasm for the profession also inspired his nephew, Steven Zeldes, to become an optometrist. Ben Zeldes' first love was caring for the vision needs of children. In addition to vision therapy, he was an early expert in orthokeratology, a method for reshaping the cornea through the use of hard contact lenses. Many airline pilots and others came to him to use this method for improving their visual acuity. In 1976, Dr. Zeldes served as President of the Connecticut Association of Optometrists and soon thereafter, became President of the New England Council of Optometrists. From 1959 – 1976, he served as chairman of the Connecticut Association of Optometrists' Insurance Committee and in the mid-1980s was a member of the American Association of Optometrists' Insurance Committee. In both roles, he broadened insurance benefits of many kinds for optometrists locally and nationally. Later, in testimony to the Connecticut Insurance Commissioner, he helped to win non-discriminatory fees for optometrists providing home and office visits. Ben was an active member of the Newington Lions' Club and an avid boater and fisherman, spending many weekends on the Long Island Sound. Both he and his beloved wife, Edith, to whom he was married for 62 years, earned the status of Advanced Pilot through numerous courses offered by the U.S. Power Squadron. His office wall boasted a mounted 20 pound striped bass, and he loved to regale his family and friends about the time he and his family caught 101 Spanish mackerel off the coast of North Carolina. He was also a reluctant but ultimately willing thespian, when Edith – a longtime theatre director -- recruited him to cameo appearances in Theatre Newington and Aetna Players performances. During World War II, although he was not drafted because he was working in his family's essential war industry, Ben chose to volunteer. He served as a ball turret gunner on a B17 bomber in the 8th Air Force, stationed in England. Ben was pre-deceased by his three brothers, Harry, Henry and Phil. In addition to his son, Ross, and wife Edith, Dr. Zeldes leaves three daughters: Mildred Zeldes Solomon of Boston, MA and Washington, DC, Hazel Ann Zeldes of Wales, MA, and Beth Zeldes Margulies of Sandy Hook, CT; nine grandchildren; three great- grandchildren; a daughter-in-law; sons-in-law; and nieces and nephews. He died at the University of Connecticut Health Center's John Dempsey Hospital surrounded by his family. Funeral services will be held on Monday (October 11, 2010) at 1 p.m. in the Chapel of the Weinstein Mortuary, 640 Farmington Ave., Hartford, with interment in the Beth Alom Cemetery, Allen St., New Britain. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the New England College of Optometry, Development Office, 424 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02115 or at http://www.neco.edu/giving/howtomakeagift.html. For further information, directions, or to sign the guestbook for Dr. Zeldes, please visit online at www.weinsteinmortuary.com.

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