Harman selected for Wall of Honor

Dr. Ben Burgoyne welcomes Dr. Lee Harman  to the Wall of Honor at Cascade Valley Hospital. - SARAH ARNEY The Arlington Times
Dr. Ben Burgoyne welcomes Dr. Lee Harman to the Wall of Honor at Cascade Valley Hospital.
— image credit: SARAH ARNEY The Arlington Times

ARLINGTON — The eye doctor’s office was transformed into a night club Nov. 1. It was a very special occasion for its founder, Dr. Lee Harman, as he was named to be the next addition to the Wall of Honor at Cascade Valley Hospital.

He joins the likes of doctors Nieble, Hubor, Zook, Hook and Burgoyne, who was there for the occasion, several commissioners and hospital administrator Joe Hopkins, who was in charge when Harman came to town in 1984.

“Dr. Harman put Arlington on the medical map,” said the current administrator, Clark Jones.

Assistant Administrator Connie DeGregorio made the nomination to Jones earlier this year. She was in charge of ordering equipment when Harman came to town.

“Joe Hopkins had a vision to build a new hospital, and Dr. Harman answered the call.” She said his arrival was memorable.

“All I wanted was an order number,” she joked. “But he had to have the best knife blades in the catalogue. It was his high standards and excellence that have contributed to the success of the The Harman Eye Clinic,” DiGregorio said.

Now president and CEO of the eye clinic, Harman has retired from surgery due to, ironically, his declining eye sight.

Harman’s goal was to be the best ophthalmology practice north of Seattle.

DiGregorio, who was also responsible for public relations in those days, remembered his prolific output of firsts, and press releases announcing them.

“He always had some major accomplishment to report,” she made the crowd of more than 100 people chuckle.

Harman was the first to offer laser surgery, then he was first to video the surgery so family members could watch from the waiting room. When he first arrived, he set up shop in an existing building adjacent to the hospital. In the early 1990s, he developed his current office across the street.

One of two Dr. Bruces currently at the office, Bruce Ballon came to the clinic six years ago, but he knew about Harman for 16 years.

“It’s a privilege and an honor for me to work with Lee,” Ballon said.

The new Bruce, Dr. Bruce Wietharn joined the clinic in 2004.

“He’s not only a great surgeon, but he’s a great clinician and a great person,” Wietharn said. He added that Harman is an excellent business man as well as a pioneer.

The manager of the office, Barbara Aliaga, also mentioned his training of young people and the opportunities he provided for his employees.

He not only expects excellence in knife blades.

“He expects excellence and he gets it. When people start working here they have old, broken down cars. Through time here, their cars get bigger, their smiles get bigger and their confidence gets bigger,” Aliaga said.

At the end of the night, Harman expressed gratitude for all the kind words.

“What we saw in Arlington was opportunity,” he said. When he and his wife opened shop, he joked, it was six months before they could buy any groceries.

The elder at the gathering, Dr. Ben Burgoyne had something to say.

“This chap is not only smart as a physician. He was smart to come to Arlington.”

Harman attributes his interest in moving to Arlington to the Arlington Airport.

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