Dr. William Tasman

William Tasman, MD, was a renowned surgeon, clinician, investigator, and administrator who exhibited extraordinary commitment to ophthalmology and Jefferson throughout his 48 years with the Wills Eye Institute.

A Pennsylvania native, Dr. Tasman had deep roots in the Quaker soil of Philadelphia and was a loyal and influential alumnus of Germantown Friends School and Haverford College. He graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and interned at Philadelphia General Hospital before serving as a captain in the U.S. Air Force in Wiesbaden, Germany. Returning from military service, he followed his father’s path into ophthalmology and joined the residency class at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia in 1959. He was named chief resident at Wills and went on to complete a retinal fellowship at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.

For Dr. Tasman, 1962 was a banner year: He completed his retina fellowship, joined the staff of Wills Eye Hospital, and married Alice Lea Mast, an art history graduate of Barnard College who was assistant director of public relations at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Operating as a team, their achievements have had far-reaching ripple effects, not the least of which are three children—Alice Tasman Morris, who is married to Richard, and sons Jim and Graham—and five grandchildren.

Dr. Tasman’s history at the Wills Eye Hospital is one of remarkable and distinguished service. He became ophthalmologist-in-chief of Wills and professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology of Jefferson Medical College (now Sidney Kimmel Medical College) at Thomas Jefferson University in 1985. In 2007, after 22 years at the helm of the nation’s oldest eye hospital and as director of the country’s first ophthalmology residency, he moved to the position of professor and emeritus chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology of Jefferson Medical College. He continued to practice up until the time of his passing in 2017.

Universally revered and beloved, “Dr. T” was a mentor and role model for medical students, residents, and fellows, to whom he unfailingly lent his time, wisdom, humor, and skill. His service, dedication, and leadership skills were recognized by his election as chairman of the American Board of Ophthalmology, president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, president of the American Ophthalmologic Society, and president of the Retina Society.

Dr. Tasman received many honors throughout his life and career, including the Zentmayer Award from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia; the Heed Award from the Heed Ophthalmic Foundation for postgraduate fellowship studies; the Jules Stein Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jules Stein Eye Foundation; the gold medal from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; membership in Academia Internationalis Ophthalmologica; the Howe Award, the highest recognition by the American Ophthalmologic Society; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology; the Retina Research Foundation Award and the Charles L. Schepens, MD, AAO Award, also from the foundation; and the Marshall M. Parks Medal from the Children’s Eye Foundation; and the Foundation of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

Dr. Tasman also served on numerous editorial boards and wrote more than 220 articles in peer-reviewed literature, 38 book chapters, four annual Retina reviews, 44 commentaries, and nine ophthalmology books.