Name: Dr. Carlton Hicks
Family: I met my wife of 58 years, Jenny, when I was a student in Memphis, Tenn., at the Southern College of Optometry, and Jenny was the secretary to the district manager of Southern Airways. We have two daughters, Molly and Holly. Holly and husband Brian live in Candler, N.C. Brian is a chef and Holly builds websites. Molly is a licensed dispensing option and works with me at Coastal Eye Care. Molly has three boys, Carlton, Austin and wife, Angelica, and Jaben. We have our fifth Weimaraner, 2-year-old Slate.
Years in the Golden Isles: I initially went into practice in Brunswick in 1963. We moved to St. Simons in 1972, and I moved my practice here full time in 1995. Jenny started a very successful event planning and wedding co-coordinating business and retired a few years ago.
School: I attended Mercer University for undergraduate school and graduate school at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn.
Occupation: I practice general optometry, including eye examinations, contact lenses and diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases. My practice is Coastal Eye Care, in Redfern Village on St. Simons.
Favorite landmark in the Golden Isles: I have been a runner for 42 years and my favorite place to run is East Beach. The view from the beach overlooking Jekyll is always pleasant. Of course, I have been seeing the Golden Ray for the past year and like most everyone else, I am ready for it to be gone.
What do you like to do in your free time? I have been fly fishing since 1979. My first fly casting lesson was at the swimming pool at Camp David. I have been fortunate to have President and Mrs. Carter as friends and fellow fly fishermen. As a result, I have traveled to many fly fishing destinations with them including Russia, Argentina, Venezuela, Honduras and Mongolia. I’ve also been to a number of destinations in the United States, including Alaska.
What inspired you to become an optometrist? When I started college, I found that I had difficulty seeing the board. I went to my local optometrist in Perry, Ga., and he suggested I look into optometry. I was already in pre-med so it was a natural transition for me. It turned out to be a really great decision.
What are some things you have enjoyed owning a practice in the Golden Isles? First of all, living on St. Simons. What a great place to live! Secondly, getting to know my patients. I have been fortunate to have so many wonderful and loyal patients. I actually have four generations of patients in one family. Also, being self-employed has allowed me the opportunity to set my own schedule that is best for me, my staf, and my practice.
What piece of advice would you give someone just starting their career in optometry? If possible, purchase a practice or go into partnership with a practitioner who is considering retirement. It is very difficult to start a practice on your own in the health care environment we have now. It is also very important to locate in a place you will enjoy living.