Little Falls native named Optometrist of the Year

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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Dr. Duane Rutz, Hallock, has been named the 2011 Optometrist of the Year by the Minnesota Optometric Association. The award is given to an optometrist who is involved with his/ her community.

Dr. Duane Rutz

Rutz graduated from Little Falls Community High School in 1970 and from the School of Optometry in Chicago, Ill., in 1981.

“Duane graduated with a degree in chemistry and a minor in biology from St. Cloud State University and then worked for a chemical company for a year,” said his mother, Betty Rutz, Little Falls. “He was not pleased with the way the chemicals were being handled.”

With friends in the optometry field, Rutz decided to attend the School of Optometry. After four years of schooling, he partnered with Dr. G. W. McAllen in Hallock.

In 1987, Rutz opened a satelite clinic in Karlstad and in 1997, he built a new eye clinic in Hallock.

“In 2000, Duane began volunteering his time screening athletes participating in Special Olympic events,” said Betty. “He became the clinical director of Opening Eyes in 2001, the sponsoring association of those screenings.”

Betty said that during olympic events, Duane and other medical professionals have given exams to the athletes and provided necessary medical equipment such as glasses, hearing aids, dental work and more.

“He also travels with various doctors during other times of the year to help people with special needs around the world,” she said.

Rutz married Linda Kohl, also from Little Falls. They they have three children, Jennifer, Miranda and Chelsey.