“If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:24
dr L. Kennedy Bumgarner – Kenny, as he insists you call him – will wake up Thursday morning as one of the many retirees in his beloved Moore County.
Bumgarner’s eyes seem to dance to two very different songs as he shares insights into his past and vision for retirement. While his worn hands suggest he’s fit for “retirement age,” his hiking shoes, hopping down the hallway, and knowledge of the latest innovations in eye care are at odds with a man who’s just turned 70 and is looking around three generations of Moore has looked after the district.
Inside the bustling Spectrum Eye Center that he and his wife Katherine built in 1999, the nearly 10,000 square feet gleam with stylish eyewear, state-of-the-art equipment, degrees, certifications and awards. Both the fashion frames and the framed acknowledgments tell the same story: a man dedicated to his craft is here.
Bumgarner was once on the cover of the country’s most respected optometry magazine. In 2017 he was North Carolina Optometrist of the Year. He has been a member of a small, respected group of examiners who license future opticians for 20 years. He even served as student council president for the Pennsylvania College of Optometry while sailing through all of his courses.
“Giving back is a big part of who I am and way more important than the other things,” Bumgarner said. “I’ve been an associate professor, I’ve spoken across the country to share my knowledge and experience, and I’m sure that public relations is one of the reasons I’ve helped so many people.”
In fact, Bumgarner developed his own program – The Outreach Plan – to connect and educate his patients, staff, the medical community and the geographic community through relationships and conversations that put a patient’s primary care first.
Recruited by Southern Pines Drs. Gale Martin and Dr. George Tate in the 1980s Bumgarner honed his craft with them before opening the Spectrum Eye Center in 1989.
In 1993 he married Katherine who, with an MBA and optometry in her DNA, also became the company’s CEO. As the company and her family grew, Dr. Scott Athans from Vass on board, then Dr. Michele Keel from Pinehurst too. The newest addition, Dr. Keith Poindexter, joins Spectrum this week and has served Moore County for more than 20 years.
“Having these extraordinary and trusted members of our community join me — considering I was once asked to come to Moore County as well — seemed so natural,” Bumgarner said.
While Katherine adores her husband, she laughs as she shares Bumgarner’s plans for the future.
“If you know Kenny, you know he’s not going to retire easily. He has so many appointments already on his calendar including being the ‘sub’ for our doctors here when they take time off. I’m glad I’m still working so I don’t have to keep up all the time.”
As expected, his need to give back and teach will continue, albeit not exclusively with the tools of the optometry trade. Bumgarner is also a certified Porsche racing instructor and “loves teaching new drivers and helping them improve their skills.” Provided, of course, that doesn’t get in the way of his desire to “race a lot more himself”.
If he can’t get the Porsche to run, he can always wander to the nearest race track. Bumgarner, eldest daughter Brandi Martin – local owner of Forte Fitness – and eldest son Tyler head to Patagonia in March for the W Trek, often described as the “trek of a lifetime”. His other children, Lance and UNC newbies Logan and Lexi, are also excited for the next wave of adventures with their dad. Even his six grandchildren are ready to join in more fun.
Bumgarner says he’ll “rest” a little when he returns from Patagonia by taking a tour of Tuscany with Katherine.
Bumgarner’s eyes smile as he pauses before walking in to see one of the last patients of his career.
“I loved getting to know these amazing people on a personal level and helping them see the world a little bit better. Having all of these people of God put in my way is the best story I could ever hope for in my life and career.”
If you have any questions or make an appointment with Dr. Athans, Dr. Keel or Dr. To schedule a Poindexter at the Spectrum Eye Center, please call 910-692-3937 or visit www.MySpectrumEyes.com.