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Sanford to host patient appreciation party for Radke's 25 years on the job

Armand Radke, optometrist with Sanford Health, 25 years ago and today.1 / 2
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Dr. Armand Radke has hit some major milestones in a two-week span -- and he's planning to celebrate them all on Friday.

After turning 60 last week, he is also celebrating 25 years of optometry with Sanford Health on Friday.

There are celebrations for him, and celebrations for his patients.

From 5 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 1, a patient appreciation party will be held at the Holiday Inn in his honor. There will be free hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar will be available.

Also on Feb. 1, patients will receive 25 percent off their eyeglass-related purchase at Sanford Health in Detroit Lakes.

Getting back to


After finishing school at the University of Houston School of Optometry and an externship with Houston Eye Ophthalmology, Radke decided to move back to Minnesota, where he was originally from.

He was offered a job at Midwest Vision, and he knew there were offices in Alexandria and a combined office for Detroit Lakes and Wadena. Since he knew the Alexandria area already, he decided to check out the other two cities.

He said he drove into Wadena and it wasn't necessarily impressive.

"I drove into Detroit Lakes and saw the lake and thought, 'Wow, this is the place to be.'"

He and his wife, Mari, have been here ever since, raising their two now-grown children here.

What would become 25 years with Sanford Health

After some time with Midwest Vision, Dr. Jim Spenningsby recruited Radke to the Fargo Clinic Limited, located in Detroit Lakes. That was February of 1988.

Spenningsby left the clinic eventually for his own practice, and at one point, Radke and Dr. Arne Graff became the administrators of the clinic because the administrator had left also.

Administration was kind of a stressful job for two men who were also taking care of their patients -- they had to prove to Fargo that the Detroit Lakes clinic was worth keeping open. They had to prove that their referrals to Fargo were worth keeping the clinic operating.

Fargo decided to keep the clinic -- and hire a new administrator, "which was a day of celebration for Arne and I."

Fargo Clinic Limited eventually became MeritCare, which has now become Sanford Health.

Changes over time

"The instruments have become much more refined so it allows us to diagnose things on the cellular level," he said of the cells of eyes.

And obviously over 25 years, medicines have changed as well. More diseases, or the influx of them anyway, have also made medicine trickier to practice over time.

Contact lenses have made a big change over the years as well. What started out as an expensive item is much more consumer friendly now.

Refractive eye surgery was supposedly going to put eye doctors out of business, but Radke said it's instead created more business for them.

With the expansion of the Detroit Lakes clinic, he said, he sees "tougher patients because the more patients, the more unusual cases."

During his time at the clinic, he's been the lone eye doctor. That could change in the next year or so though, since his patient base continues to grow.

"There are more challenging cases, but it ignites your spirit to be a solo doctor at a medical clinic."

Radke said he's always been happy and comfortable where he's at because he was trained for a clinic setting, not private practice.

Mission trips

In March, this will be the 11th year the Radkes have traveled to Mazatlan, Mexico, to perform eye care missions with the Lions Club.

They spend a couple weeks each March with other Lions Club members and various students, helping provide glasses for those in need who can't afford eye care.

A few years ago, they started taking a second trip to Cabo San Lucas to help with eye care there as well.

Radke said they will continue to do the mission trips indefinitely, regardless of if he's retired or not. Not that he's planning to retire soon.

He said he plans to practice for at least another five years.

Any patients interested in congratulating Radke on 25 years are invited to the appreciation party on Friday from 5 to 7 in Holiday Inn.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.