Henderson, NV, December 22, 2009 --(PR.com
)-- Edmund J. Aleksandrovich (AKA: Ed Aleks), 94, Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Macular Degeneration Foundation
, passed away quietly in his sleep at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, December 19, 2009. Ed is survived by his son Edmund Michael Aleks and family, his daughter Patricia Johnson and family, grandson Dr. Norman Aleks and his former wife Elizabeth Marcell.
Ed leaves behind an extraordinary legacy, one of self-sacrifice, perseverance and courage that is unmatched in recent times.
16 years ago Ed founded the Macular Degeneration Foundation with all the resources he could muster at the time. It was an enormously difficult moment in his life. Ed, though suffering from worsening symptoms of macular degeneration, was a highly successful electrical engineer who had plowed a lifetime of savings and resources into a project to install cell phone networks in Kuwait. Saddam Hussein's invasion of that tiny country and his complete devastation of its infrastructure and banking system rendered Ed virtually destitute.
But instead of wallowing in self-pity he came back to the United States and moved into a small apartment in Palm Beach, Florida where he chose to dedicate the rest of his life to helping the millions of people around the world who had been similarly smitten by the strange and devastating disease that was then commonly called senile macular degeneration.
He would work tirelessly day and night with meager resources to change this perception, lobby for increased funding for macular degeneration research and stimulate more vigorous efforts by medical researchers to develop much-needed potential solutions. The Foundation would relocate to San Jose, California, where Ed had previously co-founded and run Videologic - the company that invented slow-motion video replay from magnetic tape.
A former Navy intelligence officer in World War 2, Ed was a tall, immaculate dressed, poised man with a ready smile and twinkling blue eyes that masked the frustrating legal blindness induced by macular degeneration.
Yet despite his personal struggles Ed's focus was always on the big picture - helping others. On ABC's 20/20 program in 1995, he told his story together with those of some of the other sufferers whom he had spent countless hours counseling over the telephone. The direct and moving way he spoke connected with millions in the US and around the world.
It was this ability to connect with people from all walks of life that was to prove the bedrock for the efforts of the Macular Degeneration Foundation to increase federal funding by the National Institutes of Health for macular degeneration research and then to encourage leading eye-research luminaries to dedicate more time and effort to advance our knowledge of this disease and accelerating the search for a cure.
Ed worked the phones tirelessly. Despite his visual impairment, with the use of extreme magnifiers, Ed personally typed, edited, printed and mailed thousands of copies of the first ever publication resource for patients with macular degeneration in the United States - The Magnifier.
Today the Foundation reaches and teaches millions of people all around the world via its web site - www.eyesight.org