Dr. Rick Crolla’s foray into optometry began unexpectedly during a summer trip in the late-1970s to his in-laws’ cottage in Charleston, R.I.
He and his new bride—1971 New Canaan High School graduate Barbara Sawicky—were living in Boston at the time. They’d both earned bachelor’s degrees from Central Connecticut State University—she in early childhood and special education, he a secondary education degree in biology and chemistry.
“The plan was we were both going to teach,” Crolla recalled on a recent morning. “But there were no jobs available when we graduated.”
So Crolla, thinking he’d need additional income to supplement his future pay as a teacher, spent three years earning a second bachelor’s degree, in pharmacy. Yet working as a pharmacist didn’t satisfy Crolla, who during one stint in Quincy, Mass. was held up by a man who pulled a sawed-off shotgun out of a Lord & Taylor bag.
His father-in-law—Dr. Edward Sawicky, who had launched New Canaan Eye Associates on Elm Street in 1948—turned to him over cocktails at the cottage and asked whether he’d consider going back to school for optometry.