J Lawton Smith Award Recipient

J Lawton Smith was one of the original founders of the COS.  He was globally well known as a neuroophthalmologist who was charismatic in practice and his faith!

The J Lawton Smith Award is given out each year at the COS Annual Meeting to an ophthalmologist who has shown a lifetime commmitment to serving the Lord through their personal practice of excellence in medicine, academic influence, and/or missionary dedication.

A Call to Action




Award Year:

We face a humanity too precious to neglect . . .

We know a remedy too wonderful to withhold . . .

We have a savior too glorious to hide . . .

This is an adventure too thrilling to miss . . .

quote from Lowell Gess from his book “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”

Dr Lowell Gess celebrated his 100th birthday in July 2021 with many friends and family at his side. Dr Gess served since the 1950s at the Kissy UMC Eye Clinic in Freetown, Sierre Leone. He was one of the early ophthalmlogy missionaries that was in Africa at this time. Dr. Gess returnd to the US and started a private practice in Alexandria, MN in 1975. However he closed his private practice for 2 – 3 months at a time while returning to the Kissy Eye Clinic yearly. He did this for over 50 years since 1951 and has crossed the Atlantic ocean more than 194 times.

Dr Gess in Sierre Leone

To read more about Dr. Gess, please see this story: https://paynesvillepress.wordpress.com/2017/08/15/the-life-times-and-faith-of-dr-lowell-gess/

Most recently, at age 93, Dr. Lowell Gess traveled back to Sierre Leone during the height of the Ebola crisis to reunite with his friends at the Kissy eye clinic where he had served for years in Freetown. Enjoy this short video about his call most recently during the Ebola crisis.

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Also, enjoy this video that tells some of the story of Lowell Gess:

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Dr Gess was awarded the 2020 David Chang Humanitarian Award. See the following video presentation

I’d like to be remembered as someone who trained well and developed skills so that the best could be offered. Because unless you’re the best and offer the best, they don’t believe what you say . . . I just did my calling as a medical missionary. I just followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Quote by Dr. Gess

Dr. Gess has written 6 books and is currently working on his 7th book. His most famous book is “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Medical Missionary’s African Challenges” Amazon

JLS Award Recipients

Other amazing ophthalmologists to know . . .