Ken McCarty, (’66, O.D. ’69)

Jesus took to heaven Dr. William Ken McCarty, age 75, of Amarillo, Texas, died on April 16, 2020 after living with Parkinson’s for several years. He died peacefully and surrounded by his family. This gentle, loving, caring and wonderful man has left a permanent mark of grace etched on our hearts and will be missed by his family, friends, and the optometry patients he served for 48 years.

Ken was born on August 10, 1944 in Amarillo to Lalah (Whitaker) and W.A. McCarty. As a boy, he spent a good amount of time on his family’s ranches in Colorado where he developed a lifelong love of the mountains, horses and the great outdoors. His father passed down his love of fly fishing with fishing trips to Vermejo, which became Ken’s life-long passion.

Ken met the love of his life, Sue Sheriff, at Tascosa High School. Before graduating from the University of Houston College of Optometry, they married and were almost inseparable for over 53 years. After college, the young couple settled in Amarillo where they raised their family, supported their community and church, built a successful optometry practice and lived a full, beautiful life.

Family was everything to Ken and he lived his life always putting their needs above his own. Summers were filled with fly fishing and tent camping. He shared his love of the outdoors with his children and grandchildren, all of whom will cherish the memory of him teaching them the joy of reeling in a big trout! In the winters, he loved snow skiing, often taking family vacations to hit the slopes in the Rocky Mountains. Ken was very involved in the lives of his children and loved being Poppy to his six grandchildren. He never missed a game or recital or activity, and was always eager to help run carpool.

Ken was genuine, honest and full of integrity. A life-long learner, Ken was a good listener who lovingly offered advice, shared his knowledge and mentored many, many people during his lifetime. We couldn’t ask for a better role model.

Dr. McCarty practiced optometry for almost 50 years and loved his job as an optometrist at Advanced Eye Care (formerly Paramount Vision Clinic). That love for his profession inspired both of his children, Dr. Melanie Thompson and Dr. Alan McCarty, to work in the eye care field. They had the privilege of working with him both directly and through mutual patients. His patients, now being cared for by his children and his partners, respected and loved him like a father. He treated his patients and staff as family and will always be their beloved doctor.

Ken was deeply committed to giving back to the community he loved so well. He and Sue were members of Westminster Presbyterian Church where he was an elder. He demonstrated his faith in the love and care he gave his family and in the integrity shown to his patients and in his optometric practice. He was also an active member of Amarillo West Rotary Club for over 50 years. When his children were young, he often coached their basketball and volleyball teams.

Ken leaves us a legacy of how to live like Christ. He will be forever remembered for his beautiful smile, gentle spirit, and caring heart. Although our hearts are heavy, we will celebrate his life and find comfort that he is in heaven, finally free from sickness and disease.

He will be missed by the family who cherished him: wife Sue McCarty, daughter Melanie (Jerry Don) Thompson, son Alan (Cortney) McCarty, his six grandchildren, Avery, William and James Thompson, Riley, Aaron and Jameson McCarty, and his brother Tom (Jane) McCarty in addition to two nephews, one niece, and many cousins.

The family expresses appreciation to the caregivers of The Reserve and Encompass Hospice, and to the physicians who participated in his care since the diagnosis of Parkinson’s in 2011.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made in Ken’s name to the Diabetes Foundation of the High Plains (, or mail: TTUHSC Dr. Lunsford, 1400 S. Coulter, Amarillo, TX 79106) or Southwest Parkinson’s Society (

Please watch for details of his Service: Witness to the Resurrection to Give Thanks for Ken’s Life on Earth and in Heaven at a later date.

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