The award will be presented at the 2024 Visionary Gala on April 6, 2024.

The late Dr. Stephen R. Waltman, MD and his wife, Prof. Gillian Roper-Hall will be the recipients of the James Butler Award which will be presented at the 2024Visionary Gala: Visions in Black and White on Saturday, April 6 at the Algonquin Golf Club.

                                      Prof. Gillian Roper-Hall & Dr. Stephen Waltman, MD

Dr. Waltman died unexpectedly on April 7, 2023. He and his wife of 50 years, Gillian Roper-Hall, have been lifelong champions of SLSBVI. Stephen and Gillian became acquainted with SLSBVI through Board member and founder of the Drews Low Vision Clinic, Dr. Robert Drews, a colleague, and close family friend. Since then, they attended its many fundraising events and have been faithful supporters. The concept of using funds from donations to train individuals to become as independent as possible, regardless of their visual impairment, is what first inspired the Waltmans to become major donors to the Society. Dr. Waltman, a retired ophthalmologist and Emeritus Professor at Washington University said, “All charitable organizations accept donations but not many translate those funds so directly into programs, equipment, and training for their recipients as St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired.”

Dr. Waltman specialized in cornea transplant surgery and took pleasure in restoring sight to thousands of patients. During the Vietnam War, he served as a Major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, taking care of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed General Hospital. Later in his career, he found great joy in teaching ophthalmology residents at the VA Hospital. A life-long student, he completed his MBA at Washington University in 2000.

Gill Roper-Hall is a neuro-orthoptist and professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. She graduated from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London – one of the world’s leading eye hospitals. Gill is impressed by the simple as well as more technological assistive devices offered to clients by Society and likes to keep abreast of the many advances. She enjoys arranging for the SLU ophthalmology faculty and residents to attend open house opportunities and tour the facility to see these advances and resources firsthand for themselves and on behalf of their patients.

Gill says “it is a great honor to be acknowledged by the Society with this prestigious award for our interest and support of this outstanding organization and its many achievements. I know that Dr. Waltman would be touched by this recognition, and I am pleased to accept it on behalf of us both.”

The James Butler Award is named after one of Society’s founders and is presented to an individual for long meritorious service to Society by active participation on the Board of Directors and significant referral of patients, amongst other criteria.

The Visionary Gala is the Society’s premier fundraising event and will once again be emceed by Jasmine Huda of Fox Channel 2 News and is chaired by Bing Dempewolf, Maria Tabb, and Kenneth Tabb. The Community Light Award will also be presented to Premiere Eye Associates of Festus, Mo. The Gala will take place on Saturday, April 6, 2024 at the Algonquin Golf Club on Berry Road. Tickets can be purchased at: or by calling 314-968-9000. Sponsorships are still available! For information, contact Megan Connelly, Director of Development at or call 314-968-9000.

About St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired 

Since 1911, Society has been enhancing independence, empowering individuals, and enriching the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. Caring, qualified staff provide low vision medical exams and therapy, daily living adaptations, assistive technology, travel training, social work, and support services to more than 1,100 people every year.  

For further information on St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, please visit their website at

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