Bill Benedict, Influential Lab Entrepreneur, Dies at 88

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DALLAS—Bill C. Benedict, an entrepreneur who founded several successful optical laboratories and was an influential force in the eyewear industry, passed away Aug. 3 of congestive heart failure at his home in Farmers Branch, Texas. He was 88 years-old.

A lifelong Dallas resident, Benedict was born here on Dec. 30, 1925. He was the son of William C. and Gladys Benedict, and the eldest of four children.

Benedict served in the U.S. Navy for two years. He was a flight instructor with commercial pilot and instrument ratings, logging over 5,000 hours in single and multi-engine aircraft at a U.S. Government approved flying school as instructor or pilot-in-command.

Over the course of his optical career, which spanned nearly seven decades, Benedict achieved several notable business successes. He founded a wholesale company, International Optical, which merged with Dr. Stanley Pearle’s offices to form Opticks. After changing the company’s name to Pearle Vision, Benedict and Pearle took it public.

He then co-founded Omega Optical with his son, Dennis and Mac McFadden, which grew into one of the industry’s largest optical labs. Omega went public and was then acquired by Optical Radiation Corp. and then Essilor. With his daughter, Donna, Benedict co-founded Delta Fashion Optical, Benedict Optical and Legends 4.0 Optical.

Benedict also built the Dallas International Motor Speedway in Lewisville, Texas, was a partner in Marine Maintenance and served on the boards of Texas American Bank and Royal Optical. He also co-founded Century Ready-Mix, Century Garden Center with Donna Benedict.

He was honored with a number of special awards, including Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the Optical Legends Lifetime Achievement Award and the PPG/Jobson Star of Vision Award. In 1999, the University of Houston College of Optometry presented him with the Dr. William Pittman Optometric Leadership Award.

Benedict was named a charter member and “visionary” of The Optical Pioneers, sponsored by the Optical Laboratories Association. The Optical Laboratories Association presented him with its Director’s Choice Award in 2003.

Benedict was preceded in death by his wife of 62 years, Mary Louise. He is survived by his daughters Donna Benedict, Charlotte Belter (Bill), and son Dennis Benedict (Taylor), plus eight grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and a great-great granddaughter.

The Benedict family will receive friends from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 at Restland Funeral Home, 13005 Greenville Ave., Dallas, Texas, 75243. Services will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, August 8, 2014 at Restland Memorial Chapel.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Heart Association, Operation Kindness or Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center.