8 October 2021

John Reginald Larke: 1943-2021

We are deeply saddened to report the death of optometrist and academic, John Reginal Larke, at the age of 78 on Tuesday 22 June 2021.

John left school at 15 in 1958 and went on to attend a number of colleges. He graduated with his first degree in 1966 from the Department of Ophthalmic Optics at Aston University. After his graduation and, in preparation for his Doctorate, John spent several months working with Professor Otto Wichterle at the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CSAS) in Prague. It was there that he witnessed the pioneering work on the development of hydrogel lenses (Spofalens) – the precursor to the modern hydrogel contact lens. John graduated with his Doctorate in 1969. The friendships he was fortunate enough to experience during his time in Communist Czechoslovakia left a lifelong mark on him.

He went on to set up the Soft Lens Research Laboratory at Aston University where he supervised many Masters and Doctorate postgraduates, infecting them with his inquisitiveness and questioning mind that would provide the impetus for their own study and research journeys. He touched the lives of many and felt a great kinship with many of his students, watching with interest their careers as they developed. John left Aston to join the Laboratory of Experimental Optometry at the then University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology now part of Cardiff University.

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John Reginald Larke: 1943-2021

During his academic years he published many papers in peer-reviewed journals with a diverse group of scientists and clinicians, and in 1985 the text “The Eye in Contact Lens Wear”. In retirement too he carried on his research interests, but this time into a very different subject, culminating in 2014 in the publication of his book “The Way to Christianity” reflecting his diverse interest and intellect.

We bade farewell to a pioneering researcher, optometrist, father, great mentor and dear friend on 8 July 2021 at the Cardiff and Glamorgan Memorial Park and Crematorium. He leaves behind his four children - Ben, Suzy, Toby and Jake.