Henry Hofstetter was born in Windsor Hills, Ohio, on September 10, 1914, the eighth of eleven children of a Swiss father and a German mother. He was raised on his parents’ farm near Huntsburg in northeastern Ohio. Hofstetter attended Western Reserve University for two years and Kent State University for a summer to obtain a teacher’s certificate. He then taught all eight grades and handled the janitorial duties in a one-room county schoolhouse in Middlefield, Ohio for three years. Hofstetter received his B.S. degree in optometry, at that time a terminal professional degree, from The Ohio State University in 1939. He stayed at Ohio State to receive the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physiological optics in 1940 and 1942. Hofstetter joined the Ohio State optometry faculty. From January, 1949 to July, 1952, Hofstetter was Dean of the Los Angeles College of Optometry.
In 1952, Hofstetter became the first Director of the Division of Optometry at Indiana University and he served as director until 1970. During these years, he saw the development of the graduate program in physiological optics, the construction of the building that the School of Optometry now occupies, the addition of an optometry branch library, and the recruitment of a very able faculty. He was named Rudy Professor of Optometry in 1974 and retired in 1979.
Hofstetter authored four textbooks and over 500 papers. Perhaps his most notable book was Optometry: Professional, Legal, and Economic Aspects, published in 1948 and reprinted in 1964. His book Industrial Vision was published in 1956. He was a co-editor of five editions of the Dictionary of Visual Science. His professional publications spanned a breadth of topics, including, accommodation, binocular vision, color vision, international optometry, occupational vision, optometric education, orthoptics, presbyopia, refractive errors, strabismus, and visual acuity. Hofstetter was one of the founders of the Optometric Historical Society, which he served as president for several years. He wrote extensively for the Newsletter of the Optometric Historical Society, and was one of its editors for over thirty years.
Hofstetter was elected president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry in 1953 and when he assumed presidency of the American Optometric Association in 1968, he was the first educator to take that office. Hofstetter received five honorary doctorate degrees, the American Optometric Association Apollo Award, the American Academy of Optometry Prentice Award, the American Optometric Association Distinguished Service Award, International Optometrist of the Year from the International Optometric and Optical League, the Indiana Optometric Association Distinguished Service Award, the Armed Forces Optometric Society Orion Award, induction into the Optometry Hall of Fame, and the first Distinguished Service Award from the World Council of Optometry (WCO). Henry W. Hofstetter passed away on May 10, 2002 in Bloomington, Indiana.