The Vision Council is honoring the life and work of Alan Ritter, one of the founders of the organization who passed away last week. Ritter was one of the original founders of The Vision Council, serving as its first president in 1986, and a pivotal figure in the vision community.
“Alan Ritter was a visionary and transformational leader in the optical industry,” said Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council. “While he will be missed by many, the impact of his ideas and leadership, that have been so instrumental in shaping the industry into the innovative and collaborative community it is today, will continue to reverberate through the vision community for years to come.”
Born in Queens, Ritter earned a degree in Business Administration at Ohio Wesleyan University before moving to Glen Cove, New York, marrying his college girlfriend Ellen Partelow, and joining his family business, Universal Shellac, in 1961. Ritter’s leadership of the business led to successful expansions into new products lines, acquisitions, and foreign markets. The company quickly grew, moving from Brooklyn to Hicksville in 1970. Ritter’s guidance over the decades ultimately resulted in a dynamic company, renamed Universal Photonics, with a global footprint in numerous advanced industries.
In addition to growing Universal Photonics, Ritter actively worked to advance the industry for the benefit of all. Ritter was one of the founders of the Vision Industry Council of America (VICA), which eventually became known as The Vision Council. Among his goals was to host a world class optical show in the United States and use the profits from the show to promote the industry and eliminate the proliferation of small state and city shows. Ritter and the other founding members formed VICA as a trade association of industry members who would operate the show.
Ritter was also instrumental in the establishment of Vision Expo East in New York City, suggesting the Javits Center as an appropriate venue and negotiating the first agreement with Cahners-Reed, which later merged with Reed Exhibitions, the co-owner of Vision Expo. An innovative thinker, Ritter recommended that VICA purchase Optifair, one of the only major competitor’s with VICA at the time, and use the good will from Optifair for a new show in California, Vision Expo West.
Ritter was the first chairman of VICA and served as chairman for three years. He also served on The Vision Council Board and various committees for many years.
In his free time, Ritter enjoyed golfing and spending time with his family. Additionally, he donated a great deal of his time to charitable causes such as Prevent Blindness, Diabetes Research Institute and Bethany House, among many others.