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Man of Vision Honor Goes to Eye Disease Victim Who Saw to Needs of Fellow Sufferers

March 03, 1988|BEVERLY BUSH SMITH | Beverly Bush Smith covers social events for Orange County Life

Guests with impaired vision rose with sighted guests Saturday night to applaud Fayette Birtcher, founder of the nation's 10th largest development firm.

The 79-year-old developer, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative vision disease that usually causes blindness, received the Man of Vision award from the Orange County chapter of Retinitis Pigmentosa International.

Birtcher, who has only 5% of his vision remaining, attended the event at Le Meridien Hotel in Newport Beach that saluted his support of those with hereditary degenerative diseases that impair vision.

Guided to a podium by his sons, Art and Ron, Birtcher ran his hands over the award, a bronze eagle head. "We chose the sculpture," said Mary A. Casper, chapter executive director, "because eagles soar above the sky, above the sun, above the storm, just like Fayette has done. And they have very special vision, just like Fayette."

After a series of tributes, Birtcher's eyes twinkled as he said: "This is really getting very serious!"

With KNBC reporter Vikki Vargas as emcee, the evening began as poster girl Michelle Burke presented roses to Birtcher's wife, Mary Louise, who attended in a wheelchair. Suffering a broken hip, she said, is "one way to get a little attention."

Dr. Richard L. Hopping and Dr. Clifford M. Terry also received awards for their work in the field of vision.

After guests dined on filet mignon and jumbo prawns, the International Children's Peace Choir and David Mackayintroduced a song written for RP International, "Forgotten Eyes."

Pianist Roger Williams captivated the audience with such favorites as "Misty" and "Falling Leaves."

Casper estimated net proceeds at $50,000.

Guests included Gaye Birtcher, wife of Art, and Joanne Birtcher, wife of Ron.

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