City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Edward O'Malley

Men of Distinction Profile

Edward R O’Malley, MD, is a Grosse Pointe pediatric ophthalmologist who has served the community for 40 years. He’s been on the medical staff of Children‘s Hospital of Michigan, Bon Secours Hospital, Henry Ford--Cottage, and St. John Hospital. In 1986, he entered the world of international medicine when he made his first of twenty missions to teach pediatric eye surgery to physicians in developing nations on five continents. 

Ed has received many awards over the years, including the Community Service Award from the Michigan State Medical Society, Humanitarian awards from the Wayne County Medical Society snd the Syrian Arab Cultural Association. He won a Telly Award for his public service video on eye disease in premature babies and he was named the Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center.

Ed has coached boys’ and girls’ hockey in Grosse Pointe for twenty-five years--house league and travel, as well girls’ varsity hockey at Grosse Pointe South.  Many people reading this article will recall his guidance and leadership lessons. He has served on directorial boards of the Grosse Pointe Hockey Association, The Grosse Pointe Hunt Club, and the Harvard Club of Eastern Michigan. He was the charity auctioneer and fundraiser for The Children’s Home of Detroit. 

More interesting than his lists of achievements is how Ed’s life unfolded.

In high school, he had no plans for college since his three much-admired brothers went to work after graduation. But in tenth grade at Detroit Cathedral High School, the faculty advisor to the hockey team, Brother Patrick, told him that he might earn a college athletic scholarship. This is the point where the arc of his story takes a sharp turn. 

“I wasn’t much of a planner. I was the “plus-one date” at a wedding reception in 1967. On one side of me was my date, my future wife Judy, and on the other side was a lawyer who represented Harvard at local college nights, always on the lookout for candidates. I was off to Kalamazoo College on scholarship, so what did I care…he was an interesting stranger and fun to talk to. Monday morning, the Harvard guy called my school to gather intelligence on me and that night phoned and urged me to apply.

“To my great shock, I got in. My mom was a widow who worked in the school cafeteria, so I would need to find a lot of money. But Harvard had generous financial aid and I worked summers at the Ford Rouge Plant, so I could do it. Then in freshman year, an injury ended football for me, and I felt like I was cheating, taking their money. I met with the Dean of the College to tell him and he said, ‘We didn’t bring you here to play football; that was your decision. Stay healthy and enjoy Harvard.’” 

What impressed Ed most about Harvard was this: “In so many subtle ways, Harvard told me that being there was a gift. I could stand on the shoulders of giants, but that gift was wasted if I didn’t leverage it to make the world a better place.”

One of Ed’s college roommates was in pre-med and it was he who suggested medical school. They were both admitted to the University of Michigan Medical School. “After my first year, my summer externship at the Chelsea Medical Center fell apart in the first week, but I met a young ophthalmologist in the cafeteria line and he invited me to shadow him. He put me to work as his tech and he was my first teacher of ophthalmology. Then he introduced me to a famous, about-to-retire ophthalmology professor who had some research ideas that he never got around to. The rest Is history.”

Forty years later, Dr. Ed is now retired but he still advises young people, physicians, and others who seek his counsel. He gets occasional phone calls from former patients on his never-been-unlisted home phone. He and his wife of fifty years, Judy—his date at that fateful wedding reception--live in Grosse Pointe. They spend time in North Carolina in their cottage across the woods from their pediatric ophthalmologist daughter Erin, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. Their adult son Kevin visits from Austin, Texas. 

When I think of all the good that Dr. Ed has contributed to our community and to the world, I can’t imagine what would have been lost if the seating chart at that wedding reception had been arranged differently.