David Eifrig, MD, first chair of Ophthalmology, has died

Dr. Eifrig was the first Chairman of UNC Department of Ophthalmology, serving from 1977 - 2000. He passed away peacefully on October 9, 2013.

David Eifrig, MD, first chair of Ophthalmology, has died
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David E. Eifrig, M.D., was the first Chair of the UNC Department of Ophthalmology, serving from 1977 - 2000.

David Eric Eifrig, 78, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, passed away peacefully on October 9, 2013. He was born in Oak Park, Illinois and graduated from Carleton College in 1956. He was a loving husband, father, and a retired ophthalmologist.

He attended medical school at The Johns Hopkins University and residency in Surgery and Ophthalmology at The Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore, Maryland from 1956-1967. He was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and served in the Medical Corps from 1962-64. His retina fellowship was served in Los Angeles at The Jules Stein Eye Institute from 1967-68.

Dr. Eifrig began practicing ophthalmology in 1968 in Lexington, Kentucky. He later moved his family to Minnesota and practiced there from 1970 to 1977, becoming Associate Professor. He moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1977 where he founded the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. He was the chairman of the department from then until his retirement in 2000.

Dr. Eifrig was well-loved as an academic and clinician at UNC. He was best known for his love of and caring for patients, especially those of lesser means. He has served on multiple medical missions, donating his time and money to programs in Africa, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Saudi Arabia. During one trip to Jamaica, he stood for nearly 14 hours without a break to treat patients who had waited for days to see him and his team. By the end of the day, most nurses and residents serving with him were too tired to stand.

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Kathryn C. Eifrig. He is also survived by his four children; David E. Eifrig Jr., Elizabeth Ann Hietala, Catherine Marie Eifrig, and Charles William Gustav Eifrig.

A memorial service will take place on November 24, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. at Chapel Hill Country Club, 103 Lancaster Drive, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 27517. Telephone: 919-967-8201

In lieu of flowers, friends, family, and those touched by this wonderful doctor are asked to make donations to the David E. Eifrig Ophthalmology Fund at UNC- Chapel Hill School of Medicine. The fund sponsors the annual David E. Eifrig Lecture in Ophthalmology. The fund selects a visiting lecturer each year who embodies Dr. Eifrig’s spirit of devotion to patients, and a passion for helping research disease. The address is: David E. Eifrig Ophthalmology Fund, Sandy Scarlett Development Director, UNC Eye, Campus Box 7040, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599.