Dr. Lidkea receives optometrist award

In recognition of his years of community service in addition to his professional practice, Dr. Robert Lidkea was given the 2004 Millennium Award by the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO).
“They only give out one in all Ontario. It’s an honour,” said Dr. Lidkea, who was presented with the award earlier this month during the OAO’s annual general meeting in Hamilton.
“I didn’t know I would be getting this. I was contacted by them and my presence was strongly requested. I thought I was getting an award for Young Optometrist of the Year,” he joked.
“I’m awfully proud,” said Dr. Lidkea’s son, Bruce, who has practised alongside his father for years along with Dr. George Elliott.
“The whole office is very pleased he received the award. But we’ve always been proud of Dad here,” Dr. Bruce Lidkea added. “The award just lets other people know what we’ve always known.
“He really deserves it. He’s inspired me to follow in his footsteps.”
“I hate to admit it, but when I walk down the street now, people say, ‘Hi Bruce!” chuckled his father.
“They called me Bob for years!” laughed Bruce.
The Millennium Award recognizes a member of the OAO who has performed extraordinary public service, in either a professional or non-professional capacity, with an emphasis on volunteer service.
A look at Dr. Bob Lidkea’s track record certainly shows he fits that criteria.
“I’ve done plenty over the years,” Dr. Lidkea noted. “It’s payback to the town. You’ve got to do something for the community.
“It’s the rent you pay to live here,” he stressed.
Dr. Lidkea graduated from the University of Toronto is 1952 as a Registered Optometrist, then went on to get his Optometrist Doctorate in 1958.
He became a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry in 1983, and was granted an Honourary Optometrist Doctorate from the University of Waterloo in 1987.
He joined the Fort Frances Kiwanis Club in 1952, and has had perfect attendance over the last 48 years.
He was elected club president in 1961 at the age of 30 to be the youngest in the history of the local club, was elected Kiwanis Lt. Gov. in 1973-74, then re-elected as president in 1996-97.
For the last five years, he has been secretary—and also instrumental in getting the Kiwanis Builders Cub going at Robert Moore School here.
Dr. Lidkea also was active in the now-defunct Jaycees, and was the district chairman for Christmas Seals for many years.
Dr. Lidkea also has served on many municipal committees, with a long term on the recreation commission, including time as chairman. Presently, he’s on an ad hoc committee studying wages and benefits of the mayor and council.
He was elected to town council and served for five years. During those years, he was active on the Rainycrest Home for the Aged board, town planning committee, and Economic Development Advisory Committee.
As the town appointee to the Kenora-Rainy River District Health Council, Dr. Lidkea became very involved in that, eventually becoming vice-chair.
During those years, he used his contacts with the Ministry of Health to help get an agreement for optometrists to fill out Health Travel Grants and to allow use of diagnostic pharmaceuticals.
Following his year on the district health council, he was appointed to an emergency health committee and soon became chairman of the district group.
Dr. Lidkea also became a member of the Northwestern Ontario Emergency Health Committee and was appointed to the Ontario Emergency Health Committee, on which he served for many years.
In 1965, Dr. Lidkea served on a committee to commemorate the opening of the Noden Causeway, which gave this area a road link to the east.
Along with most other members of this group, he also was part of a centennial committee to co-ordinate special events in 1967.
As well, Dr. Lidkea has represented Northwestern Ontario in the OAO for many years, serving as president in 1975-76.
He continues to help whenever he can by taking an active role with the Optometrists Professional Advisory Committee—a group that works with elected representatives to present optometry’s position in government issues.
While Dr. Lidkea always has been involved in his church, St. John’s Anglican, he has been even moreso in recent years—including volunteering his time as a lay reader.