Valley’s only optometrist retires

Dr. Waggoner (right) and his granddaughter Charlotte (left). Photo courtesy of Joyce Alexander.

Story by Catherine Stachowiak

Optometrist Dr. Larry E. Waggoner announced to the public that he was retiring at the end of June.

His office manager Joyce Alexander said,  “He’s going to turn 83 next month. And we’re under new ownership. We have been for about a year and a half. And so he’s retiring.” 

Golden State Eye Medical Group, out of Bakersfield, was the new owner that bought the practice over a year ago.

Alexander said Waggoner originally opened the practice in 1979, down the frontage road, in Mount Mesa. And then ended up building his own office.  “He’s served a lot of people. I started here January 2012,” she said. 

Joyce plans to stay on at the practice, and the Kern Valley Sun plans to follow up with more information once a new doctor replaces Waggoner at the practice.

“I’ve been here for a long time,” Dr. Waggoner said.  “I started kind of late to get into optometry.”

Waggoner started out as a business major, and in college determined, when taking biology to look into practicing medicine.  After deciding on the eye care field Waggoner went to get his pre optometry courses out of the way to pursue optometry school. He graduated in 1976, and bought a small practice in Manhattan Beach.   

By the late 1970s he decided living in Los Angeles County was a little more crowded than what he wanted to deal with any longer. He said, “I just didn’t want to live in the city anymore. So I wanted to get out. I started looking around and saw a practice for sale in Lake Isabella. And I came up here. (I) had never been here before. (I) looked at it and wound up purchasing it, and moving here, and that was 45 plus years ago.  And I’ve been here ever since.” After starting his office in Mt. Mesa, Waggoner purchased land and built a new office in 1986.

He wanted his office to have a comfortable feel, rather than a clinical feel, with antiques to help his patients feel at ease.

“I’ve always had a friendly staff and a bunch of great people to work with. It’s worked out very well. Both the staff and myself have enjoyed ourselves. We’ve enjoyed the road we’ve been on. And the people that we’ve seen, the people of Kern Valley, have been like a family to me. They’re very special. And I, in many ways, have hated to leave,” said Waggoner. 

“The valley lends itself well to hiking and biking and outdoorsy stuff. I still love it and plan on staying here because I love the people of the valley. And (I) love where I live. I think it’s as good as any place you can find.” 

Waggoner put his practice up for sale, a couple years ago, so the people of the valley would continue to have eye care in the valley at his retirement. “I’m just working for them, for the last couple of years,” he said.

Waggoner and Alexander have been waiting to hear from the owners as to what new doctor would be placed.  Waggoner said, “Joyce is still working for them.  She’s still in the office.  And the office is still open.” 

Waggoner is definitely looking forward to enjoying his retirement.  He said he wanted to thank every one of his patients and said, “I’m going to miss all.  It’s been a great ride.  I’ve loved every day I’ve been in my office.  I’ll miss the challenges.  I’d really like to thank the people of the Kern River Valley for all their support and wish them the best.”  

Waggoner said that he had stayed working for so long because he enjoyed his job so much.  

The Kern Valley Sun plans to follow up, to let the public know when another optometrist covers Waggoner’s former office