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Published: Tuesday, 5/20/2014

DEATHS

Francis J. Kollarits, Jr, [1939-2014]; ‘Tinkerer’ built gadget to help eye implants

Inventor, professor aided Lions Club

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Francis “Frank” Joseph Kollarits, Jr., an inventor and longtime engineering professor, died May 12 at Swan Pointe Care Center in Maumee after a five-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 75 and a resident of Monclova Township.

A well-known “tinkerer,” Mr. Kollarits in the mid-1970s built one of the first ultrasounds used to measure the axial length of the eye, said his wife, Carol, who operates her own ophthalmology practice, The Eye Institute of Northwestern Ohio.

The gadget would allow her husband to write a program for a Texas Instruments calculator that would measure the curve of the eyeball, which would help doctors figure out what kind of eye implants might be needed.

Mr. Kollarits was born to Francis J. and Margaret (Kish) Kollarits in Cleveland on Feb. 20, 1939. During his teenage years he delivered newspapers to pay for his tuition to Benedictine High School.

After graduating in 1957, he worked for the Bailey Department Store in downtown Cleveland for several years until he earned enough money to attend John Carroll University, where he earned a bachelor’s of science degree in physics in 1965 and a master’s degree in solid state physics in 1967.

He completed his PhD in solid-state physics at Ohio State University in 1973.

Mr. Kollarits met his future wife, Carol Ann Roth, at a church mixer in January, 1969, and they married in July.

He told her later, “After we met that first night, I went home, and as I was taking off my boots, I kept telling myself, ‘That’s the girl I’m going to marry.’ ”

After a brief stop in Maryland, the couple moved to Monclova Township, where Mr. Kollarits first went to work for the National Institutes of Health and the Medical College of Ohio.

He later accepted a job as associate professor at the University of Toledo’s department of electrical engineering and computer science in 1981.

In 1996, Mr. Kollarits established the division of bioengineering within the department of electrical engineering at the University of Toledo and equipped its first lab.

During the same time, he also served as adjunct associate professor at the Medical College of Ohio and a lecturer at NASA’s John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. He also helped his wife run her ophthalmology practice.

He was an active member of the Maumee Lions Club for more than 30 years and was moved to tears in 1998 when other members surprised him with the group’s highest honor, the Master Builder Award.

Mr. Kollarits is survived by his wife of nearly 45 years, Carol; daughter, Edna Lorenz, and son, Matthew.

Plans are pending for a private memorial.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for contributions to the University of Toledo Foundation, a Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Research and Education Fund.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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