In Memory of David G. Shulman, MD
by Lindsey Harris, MD, TOA President
August 16, 2021

Dear Friends,

This is one of my favorite photos of Dr. Shulman because it shows him in his element, happily leading colleagues through the halls of the Texas Capitol, advocating for patients. 

Dr. Shulman was buried yesterday in a private ceremony in the Hill Country. I believe that the family intends to host a memorial service later this fall for his many friends. We will keep you updated. If you would like to send a card to his wife Becky and the family, please send it in care of his practice:

Alamo Heights Ophthalmology
999 E. Basse Rd. #127
San Antonio, Texas 78209

As you know, our hearts are heavy - ophthalmology lost a treasured friend and a true champion last week, with the passing of David G. Shulman, MD, of San Antonio. Dr. Shulman was so active and devoted to his community that a full catalog of contributions would be impossible to list. Below are just some of his contributions to medicine and to patients.

Dr. Shulman graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha in 1973 and completed his internship and three-year residency in ophthalmology at Scott and White Clinic in Temple, Texas. He practiced in the San Antonio area for over 40 years. He served as a clinical professor of ophthalmology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. Many of our colleagues will recall seeing him at Friday morning rounds, always a source of wisdom and reason to young ophthalmologists.

Dr. Shulman was a natural leader when it came to organized medicine. He joined Texas Ophthalmological Association (TOA) in 1978 and was soon recognized as a rising star. He served in almost every leadership role and then as President in 1993. During his tenure, TOA experienced such growth that it was able to achieve independence from Texas Medical Association management and from being in a combined specialty with otolaryngology.

In 1998, he was one of the earliest recipients of TOA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, a peer recognition award given to those who have exhibited a lifelong dedication to ophthalmology patients and to the profession. At the time, it was unusual for TOA to give this award to someone at the mid-point of his career as opposed to the twilight, but Dr. Shulman’s many accomplishments made him the obvious pick that year.

Dr. Shulman was also deeply respected by the greater San Antonio’s medical community. He was President of the San Antonio Society of Ophthalmology in 1997. He was President of the Bexar County Medical Society in 1995, President of its Foundation in 2003, and a member of its Medical-Legal Liaison Committee. Just last year, Bexar County Medical Society presented him with its Golden Aesculapius Award.

His service did not stop at the statewide level. Dr. Shulman sat on the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) from 2000-2003 via his role on the Council. He served as an AAO Councilor for Texas 1995-1999, then as Council Vice Chair 2000-2001, and as Council Chair 2002-2003. He served as a Regional Member of the Secretariat for State Affairs 1997 – 1999, serving as a liaison on legislative and organizational issues to the state ophthalmology societies in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. He was later elevated to the role of Associate Secretary for State Affairs in 2000. He served on the OPHTHPAC Committee, the EyeCare America State Societies Advisory Committee, the Awards Committee, and the Task Force on State Society Relations. He received the Academy’s Senior Achievement Award in 2011. At the AAO 2013 Council meeting in New Orleans, the AAO Secretariat for State Affairs surprised Dr. Shulman and presented him with the Hall of Fame Award, which is given annually to one recipient whose lifelong patient advocacy demonstrates a commitment to public policies supporting quality medical and surgical eye care in their home state.

But perhaps Dr. Shulman’s most remarkable contribution to Texas ophthalmologists was his tireless advocacy for patient safety via EYE-PAC. He was the founding chair of TOA’s EYE-PAC and served as chair since its inception in 1991. EYE-PAC has supported hundreds of successful candidates in Texas over the years. Dr. Shulman led EYE-PAC into battles when there were not many soldiers on the side of defending the quality and standards of eye care. He helped make underdogs victorious and naysayers declare that they were “with the eye docs all along!” For numerous senators and representatives in Texas, Dr. Shulman will always be “their ophthalmologist,” even if they never come to San Antonio. Many of our state lawmakers knew and trusted Dr. Shulman; they called upon him for valued counsel when it came to the complex issues surrounding medicine.

EYE-PAC remains the largest state ophthalmological political action committee in the United States. Our records show that Dr. Shulman contributed to EYE-PAC on a monthly basis during all of these years. He spent many hours “walking the halls” in Texas and DC – it was rare not to see Dr. Shulman leading a group of white coats at the TMA First Tuesday Lobby Days and AAO Congressional Advocacy Days.

Dr. Shulman always understood the need to support young physicians and to cultivate future leaders. Most of you probably don’t know that he personally paid travel costs for residents to attend Congressional Advocacy Days in Washington DC before the Advocacy Ambassador Program was formed. Dr. Shulman founded and personally funded the Barry Uhr, MD, Memorial Prize in Comprehensive Ophthalmology. This fund continues to support resident travel to the TOA Annual Meeting each year and underwrites the resident competition.

Our colleague Sidney Gicheru, MD, summed up the collective sentiment well: “David will be sorely missed. He was a tireless advocate for patients and Ophthalmology in Texas and nationally. Whether on conference calls or in Austin lobbying, he was ever present. He was a great friend and mentor to many, myself included. He was humble and understated, though he was a giant amongst Texas Ophthalmologists. Many did not know the breadth of his accomplishments and of his kind deeds. This is a huge loss for his family and for Texas.”

Dr. Shulman was married to Becky Shulman for over 40 years. They have two grown children, Lucia and Birge. Lucia Shulman Redmond and her husband Dr. James Redmond have three children, Thomas, Rebekah, and Ava. Birge Shulman is married to Julia Webster Shulman. They have one child, Kathryn.

An incredible man, a mentor, a friend. We must all be thankful that Dr. Shulman’s time on this earth overlapped with our own, and that he was willing to train and encourage us right here in Texas.