On Tuesday 22nd June 2021 John Reginal Larke, a remarkable academic and optometrist passed away peacefully at University Hospital Llandough, Penarth, Wales at the age of 78. John left school at 15 in 1958 and went on to attend a number of colleges and graduated with his first degree in 1966 from the Department of Ophthalmic Optics at Aston University. After his graduation and, in preparation for his Doctorate, John spent several months working with Professor Otto Wichterle at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CSAS) in Prague. It was there that he witnessed the pioneering work on the development of hydrogel lenses (Spofalens) – the precursor to the modern hydrogel contact lens. He graduated with his Doctorate in 1969 and never forgot that band of gifted thinkers. The kinship he was fortunate enough to experience, during his time in Communist Czechoslovakia, left a lifelong mark him. He went on to set up the Soft Lens Research Laboratory at Aston University where he supervised many Masters and Doctorate postgraduates infecting them with his inquisitiveness and questioning mind that would provide the impetus for their own study and research journeys. He touched the lives of many and felt great kinship with many of his students watching with interest their careers as they developed. He left Aston to join the Laboratory of Experimental Optometry at the then University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology now part of Cardiff University. During his academic years he published many papers in peer-reviewed journals with a diverse group of scientists and clinicians, and in 1985 the text “The Eye in Contact Lens Wear”. In retirement too he carried on his research interest, but this time into a very different subject, culminating in 2014 in the publication of his book “The Way to Christianity” reflecting his diverse interest and intellect. On the 8th July 2021 at the Cardiff and Glamorgan Memorial Park and Crematorium we bade farewell to a pioneering researcher, an optometrist, a father, a great mentor and a dear friend. R.I.P. He leaves 4 children - Ben, Suzy, Toby and Jake.
Dr Nizar K Hirji
Published online: November 20, 2021