Kvitle branches out to start his own optometry business while following his father’s legacy

Kvitle and Wallingford

Jason Kvitle, who opened Kvitle Eye Care Associates on Sept. 1, stands with office manager Linda Wallingford, who worked for 20 years with Kvitle's father, Kirk Kvitle. | David Adam

QUINCY — Jason Kvitle remembers reading the phrase, “The currency of our world is not money. It’s time.”

It has stuck with him forever.

Kvitle, 35, is nervous and excited as he’s halfway through his first month as the owner of Kvitle Eye Care Associates at 1107 College Avenue, but he also appreciates the time he spent learning his craft as an optometrist at Family Eyecare and Contact Lens Center — owned and operated by his father, Kirk.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 2009 and his doctorate of optometry from Ohio State University in 2013, Kvitle returned to Quincy to learn with his father.

“Had I gone somewhere else for seven years, I would have worked with my dad for a year or two, and that’s it,” Kvitle said. “Working with him every day, I spent lots of time with my father. I have no regret about that.”

Kirk Kvitle was an optometrist for 34 years and started his own business in 2001. He died Oct. 28, 2020, after a battle with mesothelioma. 

After his father’s death, Kvitle chose to separate from his father’s business partners at Family Eyecare and branch out on his own. The doors to his business opened Sept. 1.

“I used to get nervous before every basketball game (Jason played at Quincy High School), and my wife (Courtney) gets nervous before coaching every game (with the volleyball team at Quincy Notre Dame),” he said. “If you’re not nervous, you don’t care. You’ve seen those heart monitors on those golfers? These are professionals, but when they come up to get ready to strike that ball, their heart rate goes up. They want to do well because they care.”

Dr. Harry Ruth, an ear, nose and throat specialist in Quincy for more than 40 years, previously occupied the building. Dr. Abraham Sheffield, another otolaryngologist, followed Ruth.

Kvitle said many employees from Family Eyecare joined him in his new venture, including his wife, his mother, Barb, and office manager Linda Wallingford, who worked for the Kvitles for 20 years.

“It’s another family business where family and friends have undoubtedly assisted in my ability to pursue this new venture,” he said. “Linda is so good with names. She’s so good with knowing these people. She’s gregarious, and she has this magnanimous personality that people enjoy, and she loves what she does. We’re so happy that she came with us.

“The staff we have is wonderful. They’re all rock stars who trusted in me and believe in me enough to follow me to a new location. One thing that we will always do here is what’s best for the patient, and we will never compromise. We give them the same advice I would give my family. I won’t sell you glasses. I’ll make you see better if I can, but I will also tell you, ‘Hey, you can see as good as you can see.’ I think people come for the experience, the advice and familiar faces.”

Along with his optometry work, Kvitle is a member of the Blessing Foundation Board of Trustees, which raises, manages and disperses charitable donations to support the work of Blessing Health System affiliates. He also provides vision screening and repair of eyeglasses for the residents of homes for the developmentally delayed in the Quincy area and for those in nursing homes.

Kvitle also appreciated learning from Dr. Bill McReynolds, an optometrist in Quincy for 38 years who worked alongside Kirk Kvitle when he first came to Quincy from Evanston. McReynolds died in 2014.

“When I first came home, Dr. McReynolds said, ‘Jason, you’ve got to come over to my house every three months,’” Kvitle said. “This is a guy who hasn’t been practicing for 15 or 20 years, but he still knew the latest and greatest of everything. He was a genius in the world, and he taught my dad what to do, how to do it, that kind of stuff. Then my dad taught me.

“Something my father believed in was, ‘If you do the same thing the same way, every day with everybody, you begin to get good at it.’ He learned that from Dr. McReynolds. He took my father under his wing.”

Following his father and McReynolds is a challenge Kvitle believes he is prepared to tackle.

“After what those two did for this community, there’s high expectations for patient care,” he said. “We’re always, always, always, always going to do what’s right, but those expectations are something we’ll live by.”

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