Researchers at the University of Iowa who focus on diseases that strike the eye are getting a big financial boost. The second of two elderly sisters has died, leaving the U-of-I a tidy sum. Beulah and Florence Usher of Cedar Rapids had both been eye patients at University Hospitals, where Doctor Tom Weingeist is head of ophthalmology, and says they just received the first installment of 750-thousand dollars from the Usher estate. They also donated 120 acres of farmland from the family’s original Cedar Rapids homestead. Dr. Weingeist says the prime land is very valuable. It’s right in the Cedar Rapids area surrounded by housing developments. It’ll be sold in the future and should bring between one and two-million dollars to the University. The endowment will be called the Beulah and Florence Usher Endowment for Cornea and External Disease. Weingeist says the sizeable donation will be put to use in the U-of-I’s department of opthalmology and visual sciences. The money will be used primarily for research and education, to create a professorship and possibly an endowed chair. Florence Usher died about a year ago a few days shy of her 99th birthday. Her sister, Beulah, died in 1994. Neither ever married. Both had undergone treatment for their eyes at the U-of-I. Weingeist himself performed eye surgery on Florence several years ago and recalls visiting her afterwards. She’d baked the team a peach cobbler in thanks. Ancestors of the Usher family were some of the original settlers in the region. The Ushers Ferry Historic Village is a popular Cedar Rapids attraction, depicting life in the mid-1800s.
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