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Wilbur Neil, MD


Wilbur Neil, MD 

Dr. Neil, a recently retired general ophthalmologist from Terre Haute, IN, had an interesting path to ophthalmology.

He was an undergraduate history major and a salesman with a steel corporation in Pittsburgh until the Air Force beckoned. In the service, he spent a year in Japan on a mountaintop and during that time he read about 50 books and philosophized with fellow officers. Finally, he thought he should get into medicine.

Dr. Neil spent two years at the Ohio State University completing prerequisites for medical school. As a medical student, he considered all areas of medicine before he decided on ophthalmology. It appealed to him not only because it was academic and challenging, but also because it required very precise surgery. He remained at Ohio state for residency and felt fortunate to train with William Havener, M.D.

“Dr. Havener was an interesting guy,” commented Dr. Neil. “When I chose Ohio State, there really were only three full-time physicians on staff. Some of the doctors outside said 'That’s a one man show down there, I wouldn’t go there because if something happens to Havener, forget it.’ Now, there are 25 ophthalmologists at OSU.”

Dr. Neil remembers his residency as very tough and that Dr. Havener could
“put some residents out-to-dry pretty fast.” Dr. Havener really liked his residents to work hard and progress.

“Dr. Havener was one of the best socratic teachers that I’ve ever been around,” said Dr. Neil. “But, there are many, many odd stories about him, because he marched to the beat of his own drum, that’s for sure. He had his yearly trek out to his farm where he let his beard grow and wrote books.”

Dr. Neil’s appreciation for his excellent training at the Havener Eye Institute inspired him to donate equipment from his former ophthalmology practice to further the educational mission of the program he is proud to call his Alma Mater.