Dunlaps retire after more than 35 years of serving Stanly County

Since Jan. 2, 1985, Drs. Eddie and Janice Dunlap have provided eye care services in Stanly County.

This month, they will “hang up their white coats” and professional services in their office will be officially transferred to the optometrists of EyeCareCenters of NC, a subsidiary of EyeCarePartners, LLC, which owns approximately 450 optometric practices throughout the country.

ECP has a strong history of hiring knowledgeable and accomplished doctors and practicing fullscope medical care (eye trauma, glaucoma, etc.) in addition to optical services (glasses and contact lenses) — to continue the care the Drs. Dunlap have offered to the community.

The Dunlaps originally purchased Dr. Cecil Duckworth’s longstanding practice on Second Street which he had established immediately following World War II.

“We took a leap in faith, moving to new place — hanging out our shingle and starting our family in an unfamiliar community we had fallen in love with at first sight. Dr. Duckworth and his wife, Catherine, were instrumental in believing in us enough to not only partially finance the practice sale themselves, but to also teach us the business ins-and-outs of running an optometric office which are not taught in optometry school.”

The risk paid off, and the Dunlaps were able to expand and move their practice in 1997, building their “dream office” at its current location on Salisbury Avenue.

The Dunlaps feel Dunlap Vision Center grew to be one of the preeminent optometric practices in the area, with its copper metallic roof a unique and recognizable landmark in Albemarle.

“It’s not always easy in a public service profession, but we decided from the beginning that the only good and appropriate way to build a strong practice was to treat each patient as we would want to be treated ourselves — the Golden Rule principle.

“We have always tried to honestly and fully explain each individual’s situation to them and help them make the best decisions possible regarding their vision needs. We are so grateful for the trust and loyalty this has built between us and our patients over the years. Our job has allowed us to meet so many interesting people and to establish relationships with people that go beyond their eye care — our friendships with so many of our patients has been one of the most rewarding aspects of our career.

“In that same vein, we would be remiss if we did not recognize each and every staff member who has worked with us over the years. We absolutely could not have accomplished the service mission upon which we based our practice without a wonderful, hard-working staff. We have been blessed and fortunate to work alongside many fine and caring people — and to share the highs and lows of our lives and their lives, like a work family does.”

The Dunlaps plan to stay in Stanly County for the time-being, as they are centrally located to their three sons and their families.

Retirement plans include continuing to work in outreach at their church and on various community boards, chasing grandchildren and traveling around the USA to check off the bucket list places they have not had time to visit while working.

“We really never anticipated that we’d practice for 37 years, but it sure got here fast. When it’s all said and done, we just feel incredibly blessed to have traveled the road that led us from God bringing us to Albemarle in the summer of 1984 searching for a home to this moment in time.

“Mostly, we want to sincerely thank the people of this area who welcomed us with open arms, entrusted us with your care, and allowed us to be part of your lives.”