Dr. Richard Jones will miss his practice, but he will, most of all, miss the people.
Jones, who opened Family Vision Clinic in Lovell and Cody in 1981, retired June 30 after 33 years helping people see better in the North Big Horn Basin.
Office Manager Debbie Walker has been with him the entire time, joining the optometry practice in January of 1981.
The practice moved across the alley to its present location in February of 1984.
“Hack Jolley remodeled this building for us,” Jones said. “He was concerned whether we would still have a place and made sure we did.”
Jones later bought the building from Jolley.
Jones was born and raised in Cody, but he has roots in Big Horn County. His father was Spud Jones from Byron, and his mother was Marie Henderson of Burlington.
His local ties led him to Lovell, as well as a need he observed.
“There was no optometrist in Lovell,” he recalled. For years Jones spent Mondays and Thursdays in Lovell and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Cody.
Jones is a 1965 graduate of Cody High School and a 1972 graduate of BYU, where he earned a degree in international relations and Spanish.
“I was going to go into the Foreign Service, but about a week before graduation I decided that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to live in Wyoming.
“I worked for a year at a job I hated, and that drove me back to school. I ended up choosing optometry over dentistry and veterinary medicine. I’d always enjoyed science. At one time I wanted to be a wildlife biologist.”
Jones did his pre-optometry schooling at Cal State Los Angeles, then attended the Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton. He chose the Southern California schools because his new bride, Cheryl, was from the area.
After graduating from school in 1980, Jones returned to his native Wyoming and started the Lovell and Cody practice. Asked what he will miss, Jones replied without hesitation: “The best part is the people. I’ve been so blessed to be able to practice here and meet the people. One thing I will really miss is that there are so many good people around here.
“I loved coming down here. There are great people in Lovell. I’m very, very thankful for them. That was the hardest part about deciding to retire.”
Jones has sold the practice and the Lovell building to Dr. Jacob Despain, who started partnering with Jones more than a year ago. Dr. Despain will keep the same Monday and Thursday schedule in Lovell.
“People seem to like him. They get along with him,” Jones said. “I feel like the practice will be in good hands. I love his folks (Carvel and Patty Despain). They’re great people.”
Now 68, Jones plans to enjoy the 10 acres “up the South Fork” his father acquired many years ago and where he built a home about six years ago. His plans include horseback riding, camping and four-wheeling – “anything ending in i-n-g,” he joked. He and Cheryl will enjoy their four grown daughters and three grandsons, as well.
By David Peck