DENVER—Essilor executives and others expressed their gratitude—and other sentiments—at a farewell reception the company hosted here last month for Dr. Howard Purcell, who in April was named as president and chief executive officer of the New England College of Optometry. Purcell, the former senior vice president of customer development for Essilor of America, assumed his new role at NECO on July 2.

Several of his colleagues, including incoming Essilor USA president Rick Gadd and chief marketing officer Sherianne James, stepped up to offer anecdotes and tributes during the early-evening gathering on the Denver City Terrace of the Hyatt Regency here. And, Purcell, clearly touched by all of the accolades, responded with a few stories and tributes of his own, and threw in his prediction of a strong future for the company in its new iteration.

Purcell also provided the party with an unexpected boost when he accepted the band’s invitation to sit in on drums for The Isley Brothers’ popular 1950s song “Shout.” As the invitation to the reception noted, Dr. Purcell was always tuned into the “beat of a different drum.”