Savannah’s First Black Eye Doctor

Changes Direction and Focus

The Beginning: Dr. Jim Dandy at his first Optometry Office 1816 Abercorn Street.
The Beginning: Dr. Jim Dandy at his first Optometry Office 1816 Abercorn Street.

(Part4ofa4PartSeries)

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.” William Jennings Bryan

Dr. Jim Dandy’s journey is not a matter of chance. When he was diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative eye disease that would eventually render him blind, he chose to go to Optometry School; to get married, to become a father; to encourage other young African Americans to pursue the practice of optometry and to become a successful businessman. He chose achievement over failure and tenacity over apathy.

“Acceptance of one’s life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary it means accepting it as it comes… To accept is to say yes to life in its entirety.” Paul Tournier

“I opened my optometry practice at 1816 Abercorn Street on November 3, 1972 and moved to 3709 Waters Avenue July of 1975. Now, Savannah Family Vision Center has closed its doors after 42 years of service to Savannah and the Low Country. I have 42 years of precious memories. I still have my sign-in sheet from the first day that my office opened on Abercorn Street. Most of those patients remained with me throughout my entire tenure, and those who are still alive go to my sons. Everywhere I go in Savannah, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Atlanta, Charleston and other places, I run into former patients because I was seeing 3rd and 4th generations. I have been so fortunate and blessed.”

“My change of direction began in 1989 and 1990 when I took business management

Progress: Savannah Family Vision Center 3709 Waters Ave. Mr. G (CEO of Cazal Eyewear) and U.W. Plummer, General Manager
Progress: Savannah Family Vision Center 3709 Waters Ave. Mr. G (CEO of Cazal Eyewear) and U.W. Plummer, General Manager
courses from Sterling Management Systems in Glendale, California. At Sterling, I sat next to a podiatrist from Nebraska and many of our conversations were centered around our professional similarities, including diabetes and its affect on the eyes and feet. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness and the leading cause of leg, foot and toe amputations. I found podiatry so interesting that when I returned to Savannah, I told my office manager that, one day I am going to open a podiatry practice.”

“The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth.”

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“In the early 1990s my uncle, who was diabetic, had both legs and thighs amputated and was on dialysis when he passed. In 1999, I was diagnosed with diabetes. In 2005 my sister Voncile, who also was diabetic, was on dialysis and had a toe amputated. Shortly thereafter, she was sitting in front of her space heater and fell asleep. Her foot was literally cooked, and she didn’t even feel it. The vascular surgeon was about to amputate her foot and lower leg when she had a stroke and died. This really changed my direction and focus toward podiatry and specializing in diabetic foot care.”

“In December 2005, I purchased 3840 Waters Avenue, one block from Savannah

Family Vision Center. I founded Antioch Medical Associates, The Foot and Ankle Group, in March 2006 and hired Dr. Lillian Williams as the Podiatrist. The practice grew, and we moved to 9104 Middleground Road Suite 2 in the building with my sons, one of whom specializes in diabetic eye care. I then hired Dr. Heather Driessen. Both Drs Williams and Driessen have since moved on.”

“In 2008, my brother, Dr.

New Direction: Dr. Jim Dandy, founder and President of Antioch Foot & Ankle Group, 9104 Middleground Rd, Suite 2
New Direction: Dr. Jim Dandy, founder and President of Antioch Foot & Ankle Group, 9104 Middleground Rd, Suite 2
S. Algenon Dandy had a series of 3 strokes due to diabetes, and he passed from diabetic complications. In 2010, my mother had a stroke and she passed from complications due to diabetes. In 2013, my uncle’s son passed due to diabetes complications. He was on dialysis and had both legs and one arm amputated. The death of so many close family members added to my acute interest in devoting the rest of my life toward educating diabetics and reducing leg, foot and toe amputations. It’s a fact that diabetes is hereditary. It has been a source of pain and grief for my family and plagued us for many years. So, it’s personal, and I choose to make a difference in the life of persons with diabetes, especially their foot care.” “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine

“Of course, no one wants to be blind, but I don’t consider my blindness a handicap or a hindrance. Being blind keeps me from driving, playing bid whist and dirty hearts and watching sports. Actually, I consider my blindness a blessing. Sounds strange doesn’t it? My life has been planned by God. My plan was to go to Officer Candidate School and retire from the Air Force. I was really enjoying playing baseball and fast pitch softball in the Air Force, but God had another plan for me. After all, He is in control and I am overjoyed that He has used me to make a difference in the lives of so many others. So, I give Him all the glory and I count it All Joy. I am most grateful to Savannah and the Low Country for supporting my family and me over the years.”


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