By KAYLEE WILSON
Excitement filled the room as people gathered to present Dr. Lee Scaief with certificates of recognition and words of gratitude for his longstanding service to his staff, patients, and community. On Wednesday, March 15, Optometrist Dr. Scaief was surprised by his staff, community members, and Oakdale Mayor Cher Bairos as they joined in to celebrate his 50 years of practice at Oak Valley Optometric. He was presented with awards from the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce, California Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil’s office, as well as from Mayor Bairos on behalf of the City of Oakdale and Stanislaus County District 1 Supervisor, Buck Condit.
Mayor Bairos, whose family has been seeing Dr. Scaief for generations, expressed her appreciation by stating, “My grandmother loved you, my mom loves you, I love you, our whole community loves you. City of Oakdale wants to say thank you for being you, thank you for choosing Oakdale all these years, and thank you for all you do.”
Dr. Scaief graduated from University of California Berkeley in 1970. After working for a few years, he opened the doors to Oak Valley Optometric on March 15, 1973 in Oakdale as the sole provider. Dr. Scaief’s passion for optometry was not only focused on his practice but also as an educator. For 50 years, he worked as a part-time clinical professor at the University of California Berkeley concurrently with his practice while caring for patients full-time. During his tenure, he assisted students as they forged their own paths into the field of optometry, and often gave them the opportunity for hands-on experience at his own practice.
In addition to his love of optometry, he is also devoted to the community of Oakdale. As both a resident and business owner in Oakdale, Dr. Scaief is an active participant in many Oakdale community clubs and service groups. His generosity and leadership have enriched the community throughout his career. Dr. Scaief played a large role in creating notable events, such as the annual Oakdale Rotary Testicle Festival which will be celebrating its 40th anniversary later this month, with the dinner set for Monday, March 27 at the FES Hall in Oakdale. Friends and colleagues note that he is always willing to help and give back locally.
In a heartfelt speech presented to those in attendance, Dr. Scaief stated, “I was born in Los Angeles, went to Berkeley, and Oakdale. Two forms of culture shock and Oakdale is the finest culture going around. Loved every minute of it, enjoyed every minute of it, greatest people in the world; just a really nice community, easy to take care of and we kept them seeing.”
Dr. Scaief was also surprised to see his former office manager of 35 years, Donna Pooley, who joined the festivities. Surrounded by his staff, both current and of days past, he beamed with joy. And, after 50 years of service to the community, Dr. Scaief said he has no intention of stopping anytime soon.