John Young, COLTS Lab Founder, Dies at 76


John M. Young.

OLDSMAR, Fla.—John M. Young, founder of COLTS Laboratories (Ophthalmic Product Testing Services), passed away in Safety Harbor, Fla., on July 2 at age 76 after a long illness.

Young was born May 31, 1941 in Springfield, Mass. An engineer and optician, he was active in many disciplines of the optical industry including engineering, research and development, and quality, and held patents for the design of optical lenses, devices and FDA drop ball testing protocol.

Young lectured for several decades to advance education in the optical industry, authored more than 100 published articles and papers, and was a member of 16 national and international standards committees and association committees. He chaired committees for both ANSI and ISO.

Young’s career and dedication to the optical industry began in 1969 when he began his tenure at American Optical. He worked in research and development at AO and received several patents. He also ran the company’s in-house testing lab. In 1983, to mark AO’s 150th anniversary, Young founded the Optical Heritage Museum in Southbridge, Mass. and served as its original curator.

In 1990, Young took the position of director of quality at Essilor where he oversaw quality for North American operations. He was later promoted to vice president of new product development. He represented Essilor on numerous standards and technical committees worldwide. He oversaw Essilor College, continuing education for opticians on the subject of optics.

In 1997, Young started COLTS Laboratories, an independent ophthalmic testing lab in Oldsmar, Fla. He continued developing industry tests at COLTS, and the company, now under the direction of Young’s daughter, Kimberly Hutton, remains dedicated to overall quality in the optical industry.

John Young inspecting a pair of antique spectacles at the Optical Heritage Museum in 1983.
Young received many optical industry honors, including the 1992 Man of the Year Award from the National Academy of Opticianry and the first President’s Award from the Opticians Association of America in 1994 for his dedication to the advancement of education. He was presented with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the American Optometric Association, Schools and Colleges in 2005.

In 2002, the AR Council recognized him for his visionary leadership and support. In 2016, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Vision Council’s Lab Division.

Young is survived by his wife of 41 years Patricia Young, his daughter Kimberly Hutton, sister Donna Young, grandson Samuel Hutton and granddaughter Kylie Hutton.

A funeral service is set for Saturday, July 8 at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens, 1750 Curlew Rd., Palm Harbor, Fla. The family will receive friends at 10:30 am, followed by the service at 11:00 am.

Donations in Young’s name can be made to the Shriners, an organization to which he belonged.