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.

The man who changed J Lawton Smith’s life




Award Year:

His life motto was to “preach, teach and heal in Jesus’ name”

Jack Cooper was born as a fourth generation Texan and native to Dallas. After high school in North Dallas high school and college at Rice Institute, he attended UT Southwestern Medical School, an internship at Parkland Hospital and then 3 years of ophthalmology training at Johns Hopkins hospital. He served as an ophthalmologist to the US Air Force and was a consultant ophthalmologist for NASA’s first group of astronauts. He established a private practice in Dallas in the 1960s where he also served as a clinical associate professor at Southwestern Medical School and sponsored the Christian Medical Society. He later joined the full time faculty as an assistant Professor until his retirement.

J Lawton Smith used to talk a lot about Jack Cooper. Jack and he were co-residents at Wilmer. They apparently did a lot of “partying” as nominal Christians who had not developed a personal relationship with Christ. After residency in 1962, J Lawton went to Bascom Palmer. J Lawton then ran into Jack Cooper at the AAO and noted that he was very very different. J Lawton asked Jack what was different about him. Jack told him that he was born again and that he was completely changed. J Lawton reported with much charisma that what Jack had reported to him at that Academy meeting “ate into his brain like a rat.” Because of his friend Jack and this totally dramatic transformation that J Lawton had experienced, J Lawton got on his knees before the Lord and rededicated his life to the Lord (in the fall of 1962 after the AAO meeting) J Lawton reported that he had never experienced such a tranformational story like what he saw in Jack Cooper.

Jack believed in treating the “total person” and caring for the soul by sharing Christian faith and caring for theobdy by practicing medicine. He did this in his daily practice and in developing nations across the world. In 1967, he served as a medical missionary with World Vision on a world tour. On this trip, he served as a consultant ophthalmologist to the President of South Vietnam and to the Southern Vietnamese Army Hospital. In 1969 he served as a medical missionary to Honduras with the Christian Medical Society and Central American Missions. He also traveled to Dominican Republic and Liberia, Africa with CMS.

Jack was a member of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas. Over his life, he served as a Bible teacher, steward, elder, chairman of missions, chairman of evangelism, and member of executive committees at other churches. In 1965, he started discipling and leading Bible Studies for medical students and doctors. In the same year, he toured Latin America with a group of businessmen with the purpose of sharing the gospel of Christ. He was an active speaker in churches of all denominations. He trained hundreds of laymen, doctors and medical students to share their faith. He was a conference speaker for many Christian organizations including Campus Crusade for Christ’s Institute for Physicians and Dentists and the Christian Medical Society. He authored several articles on applying the Christian faith: “What Prayer Means to Me”, “Light of Life”, Light for the Blind”, “A Physician Shares His Faith”, “The Great Physician”, and two books, Stewardship and Doctor-Patient Relationships. He was the subject of newspaper and magazine articles, radio programs, and both local and national television programs. He also authored several publications in his medical specialty. He filmed and produced a movie about his experiences in Honduras as a medical missionary, entitled “Light for the Blind”. The film was shown at a medial meeting at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Jack was married to his wife Nancy for 65 years and passed away at age 89 on June 26th, 2019. He spent his later years enjoying time with his wife, playing piano and continued to read the Bible every year. He attended Park Cities Baptist Church and enjoyed sharing his faith with as many people as he could.

JLS Award Recipients

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