Dr. Alice R. McPherson (1926-2023)

Jan 24, 2023Announcement, Obituaries

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of a Pan-American icon. On January 16, 2023, Dr. Alice R. McPherson passed away. Dr. McPherson was president of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology, 1995-1997, and Chair of the Pan-American Ophthalmological Foundation, 1997-2000. She was a pioneer, a humanitarian, an educator and a philanthropist, in ophthalmology, in her field of retina, and in the Pan-American. We will miss her.
Click here to view the memorial bulletin from her foundation, Retina Research Foundation.
Below are a few memories from some who knew her. If you would like to share a memory, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Dr. Alice R. McPherson

The Pan-American Presidents at the McPherson Dinner , Las Vegas 2017

Front row, seated (left to right): Dr. Bronwyn Bateman, Dr. McPherson, Dr. Liana Ventura
Back row, standing (left to right): Dr. Rubens Belfort Jr., Dr. Richard L. Abbott, Dr. Francisco Contreras, Dr. Enrique S. Malbran, Dr. Miguel N. Burnier, Mr. Nelson Marques, Dr. William De La Peña, Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma, Dr. Eduardo Alfonso

In Memory of Dr. McPherson

As President of the Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology, it is with deep, deep sadness that I would like to announce that Dr. Alice R. McPherson peacefully passed away on Monday evening, January 16, 2023, after an extended period of hospice care.

Although her passing has been expected, we truly will miss her leadership and the vibrant spirit with which she indomitably lived her 97 years.

We find comfort in knowing that during these last few months, she was able to be at home, alert, content and happy, with the opportunity to see those she held so dear.

Dr. McPherson was the first woman elected as president of the PAAO from 1995 to 1997. She has always exercised her leadership with extreme dedication and focus, but always with education and tenderness. She exercised the so called soft power with mastery.

I wouldn’t be president of PAAO if I weren’t a beneficiary (even if indirectly) of the Gillingham Pan-American Fellowship, one of the many ways to encourage education and research fostered by Dr. McPherson.

She will be missed.

Dr. McPherson strongly indicated she didn’t want any public service and the Retina Research Foundation intends to honor her request. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Pan-American Ophthalmological Foundation (https://paao.org/paof/donate) or to the Retina Research Foundation (https://retinaresearchfnd.org/giving).


Paulo E.C. Dantas MD PhD (Brazil), PAAO President 2022-2025







Dr. McPherson influenced the lives and careers of so many throughout the years with her many Pan-American Scholarship programs:


  • North American Course membership program (1990-1995)
  • Gillingham Pan-American Fellowship (1993-present)
  • Paul Kayser International Scholar Program (1995-2012)
  • Tyson ARVO Travel Awards (2003-2010)
  • Paul Kayser / RRF Global Award (2012-present)

McPherson/RRF Scholarship recipients, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2013

Left to right: Dr. Maria Alejandra Henriquez (Peru), unknown, Dr. Arturo Ramirez Miranda (Mexico), Dr. Enrique Graue Hernandez (Mexico), Dr. McPherson (center with roses), unknown, Dr. Martin Serrano (Venezuela), Dr. Maria Cristina Nishiwaki Dantas (Brasil), Dr. R.V. Paul Chan (USA), unknown



Alice was a fearless lady and a role model for all women ophthalmologists in the Americas. I recall a lovely dinner with her and Tony at the AAO Council many decades ago – he was both interesting and charming. Alice was a great retina specialist and she had a wonderful husband. She ‘spent’ her life well. It was an honor to have known her.

Bronwyn Bateman MD (USA), PAAO President 2003-2005



I met Alice in Boston in 1984 when I was doing my Cornea fellowship. She came to visit the Schepens Eye Institute and shared with me her story of how she chose Texas instead of Florida as a place to practice after her Retina fellowship. She knew that Texas was in greater need of retina specialists than Florida. As a leader in the PAAO, she made sure that funds would be available to support education. During the first North American Course of the PAAO, I was the Program Chair. She heard that we were having financial difficulties and she wrote a check to support the speakers. Alice will always be remembered for her warm personality, her intellectual wit, and her generosity. I’ve lost a great mentor and friend.

Eduardo Alfonso MD (USA), PAAO President 2015-2017



Dr. Alice McPhearson was a true giant. She was a giant in Ophthalmology but more important was that she had a giant heart.

Her guidance, vision and generosity will prevail for many generations of Ophthalmologists, and certainly will be an important part of the PAAO and PAOF history.

We will miss her.

May she rest in peace.

William De La Peña MD (USA), PAOF Chair 2012-2015



Alice McPherson was a physician of great elegance and dedication, who translated her devotion to quality eye care by providing resources to enable strong educational programs for young physicians.  She will be remembered for her expertise, her exemplary leadership, and her great generosity.  She will be greatly missed throughout the Americas.

Mark J. Mannis MD (USA), PAAO President 2011-2013



We lost a pillar of the PAAO; a great lady, an outstanding ophthalmologist and a wonderful human being.

Enrique Graue Wiechers MD (Mexico), PAAO President 2005-2007



With deep sadness we received the notice that our dear Alice R. McPherson passed away on last Monday, January 16th.  Alice’s outstanding leadership will remain forever as a firm, warm, and brilliant personality that greatly contributed the advancement in Ophthalmology. Her strong Pan-American feelings became a real cornerstone in the history of the Pan American Association of Ophthalmology and the organization that she championed so brilliantly as President.

Enrique Malbran Sr. MD (Argentina), PAAO President 1989-1991



Alice was one of the most generous, compassionate, and kind individuals I have ever met.  Her elegant, but modest style was the hallmark of her leadership and inspirational to all who knew her.

She led by example through her numerous financial gifts, scholarships, and grants, recognizing the critical importance and need to fund clinical education, as well as basic ophthalmic research.  I was indeed fortunate to have known her and work with her, and her legacy will remain with me forever.

Richard L. Abbott MD (USA), PAAO President 2007-2009



It was wonderful knowing Alice McPherson. Her kindness, uncomplicated conversation and intelligence were the best.  I am grateful for these shared moments throughout the years.

Cristian Luco MD (Chile), PAAO President 2009-2011







Dr. McPherson was a great person, an outstanding leader, and a firm, loyal and beloved friend…she will be greatly missed.

Francisco Contreras MD (Peru), PAAO President 1993-1995

Dr. McPherson and Dr. Contreras, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2013



Dr. McPherson and Dr. Fernando Arevalo, Chicago 2012

Dr. Liana Ventura, Dr. McPherson and Teresa Bradshaw, Chicago 2016

Alice McPherson was the biggest giant in Ophthalmology and her light will shine upon us always. Alice knew how to make everyone feel important! She was extremely generous and humble in so many ways but she will always be remembered in the thousands of lives she touched. Life will never be the same without you Alice!

We will miss you!

Fernando Arevalo MD (USA), PAAO President 2019-2021; PAOF Chair 2021-2024

We are deeply sorry about the loss of Alice McPherson, a great professor and mentor at Baylor College of Medicine,  from whom we’ve learned so many things since the first time we met in 1982, in Houston.  We will always remember her as a great Past President, leader and embassador of the Pan American Association of Ophthalmology and the Pan-American Ophthalmological Foundation.

Liana Ventura MD PhD (Brazil), PAOF Chair 2015-2018 & Marcelo Ventura MD PhD (Brazil), President, Altino Ventura Foundation

Dr. Fernando Arevalo, Dr. McPherson and Dr. Liana Ventura, Las Vegas 2017


Dr. Eduardo Alfonso, Dr. McPherson, Dr. Bradley R. Straatsma, Dr. Liana Ventura, Chicago 2016





Dr. McPherson was one of the first people I met at the 1985 AAO Annual Meeting in San Francisco when I began working for the Pan-American.  She was a wonderful mentor.  It was a privilege to have served under her as PAAO President, and as PAOF Chair. I am forever grateful for her friendship.

 Teresa J. Bradshaw (USA), PAAO/PAOF Executive Director 1985-present



Dr. McPherson was an amazing person. Generous, funny, helpful, exacting. I will be forever grateful for having known her.

 Terri Grassi (USA), PAAO/PAOF Administrator 1987-present

Teresa Bradshaw, Dr. McPherson and Terri Grassi, Las Vegas 2017