Dr. Phil Ortiz: In Memoriam 

Philip A. Ortiz, O.D. journeyed into the spiritual realm February 15, 2022 after a vibrant life. Born April 15, 1936, he was one of nine children born to Benito and Juana Ortiz, undocumented immigrants who as teens fled violence and poverty of post-revolutionary Mexico. They met in Depue, Illinois at a railroad camp. The family was provided a rail car for housing in exchange for Benito’s labor. Those humble beginnings fostered many happy memories and desires. Phil understood one thing – the only way to get out of poverty was hard work and education, and he applied himself in every way possible. He was offered a scholarship to Marquette High School, a private Catholic academy in Ottawa, Illinois. He was Captain of the varsity basketball team, and in 1954 graduated with honors. Many years later, he was inducted to the Alumni Hall of Fame. It was at a basketball game that Phil first met Gaydeen Horna, a cheerleader from nearby Leland, and they were married in 1958. Their relationship was a successful loving partnership that lasted

Phillip Ortiz
Phillip Ortiz

until Gay’s passing in 2006. They built a life together of family, global friendships and a legacy of fun, giving back and enjoying life. It wasn’t easy for the struggling young couple during the years Phil attended Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, working three jobs to take care of his family, which now include daughter Dawn. After graduating in 1963, Phil joined his father-in-law, Dr. Jerome V Horna before starting his own optometric practice in Morris, IL at the Tratt Clinic and then opening his own building in 1969. The practice grew and underwent 4 major additions. Phil and Gay built a full life in Morris, Illinois, adding son Tim, growing his practice, supporting Gay in her artistic endeavors, such as “The City Mouse” an iconic 70’s dress shop. It was in 1978, Phil journeyed with VOSH “Voluntary Optometry Serving Humanity” on his first eye care mission. He was hooked, and from that year on, Phil Ortiz worked to provide vision to underserved people every day of his life. In 1987, Phil, Gay and the late Dr. Charles Cools decided to create their own non-profit, and co-founded I Care International. Built from a community of volunteers, and fueled by the generosity of service club members from the Lions, Kiwanis and Rotarians around the world. I Care was inspired by Phil’s desire to create missions that

,brought real results in improving people’s lives. Fun was always a necessary ingredient, and all missions concluded with memorable fiestas! Scores of volunteers joined medical professionals on trips that always included various members of the Ortiz family. In total, it is estimated well over 350,000 people have benefitted in some way from I Care efforts. Phil’s contribution to humanity was often recognized, including the Paul Harris Fellowship, Lions Club International, Morris IL Citizen of the Year, to name just a few. The central coast of California and Morris, IL have been tied together in many ways. Phil and Gay spent many years in San Luis Obispo County, gaining lifelong friendships. Daughter Dawn Ortiz-Legg welcomed them, and Phil was right there when granddaughter Georgia Legg was born. Phil’s family has always been front and center, whether it was training brother Tony to become an Optician or having son Tim take over the practice when he retired. He cheered on his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews at sporting and varied activities. In his spare time, Phil enjoyed hunting and fishing all over the world. He loved history and had a keen knowledge of cultures around the world and delighted in exploring their music and foods. He took great pride in his garden and loved to share with others.


He was known to bring food and goodies to his friends, family, and neighbors—his tomatoes, pies, and usually a watermelon. He was blessed with grandchildren, Laurie (Geno) Woolsey (Mahomet, IL), Taylor (Sean) Hershman (Downers Grove, IL), Georgia Legg (San Luis Obispo, CA), and the late Ben Ortiz. He also had great-grandchildren, whom he adored: Addisen, Miles, Erin Woolsey and twins, Quinn and Charlie Hershman. He is survived by his children, Dawn Ortiz-Legg (San Luis Obispo), Dr. Tim (Karen) Ortiz (Morris, IL), grandchildren, great-grandchildren, his brother in law Ray Perez, sister in law Judy Ortiz, many adoring nieces & nephews, and his dear companion of the last several years, Rita DeAngelo. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Gay, sister Mary Perez , brothers Richard (Dick), Angel, Tony, Dan, Jose, Juan, and David, sisters in law Margaret, Ruby, and Patricia, nephews Rick Perez, Scott Ortiz, and niece Lisa Marie. 

I CARE International History

I Care International, Inc. grew from the experience and dreams of people dedicated to helping others. I Care International was formed in 1989 by Illinois Optometrists, the late Dr. Philip Ortiz and the late Dr. Charles D. Cools, as a nonprofit volunteer organization whose mission was to provide eye care services to less fortunate men, women and children around the world. Since then, vision professionals and scores of volunteers have ventured to sites in both Latin America and the United States to provide tens of thousands of people with free eye care, medications and glasses. Volunteers have served in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Arizona, Florida, Illinois and California.

I Care’s goal is to help others improve their quality of life by providing the gift of better vision and health. From the little boy who smiles because now he sees the clouds in the sky, to the older lady who cries because now she can sew and have an income, I Care International is changing lives one by one.

Past Clinics


  • Acaponeta, Nayarit – 1 Mission – Attended 3,226 Patients
  • Amealco and Humilpan, Queretaro – 1 Mission – Attended 4,000 Patients
  • Belize – 1 Mission – Attended 1,143 Patients
  • Chile – 1 Mission – Pacific University – Attended 3,000 Patients
  • Compostela, Nyarit – 2 Missions – Attended 3,600 Patients
  • Cuenca, Ecuador – 1 Mission – Attended 3,800 Patients
  • Durango, Mexico – 2 Missions – Attended 3,277 Patients
  • El Transito, El Salvador – 1 Mission – Attended 1,700 Patients
  • Ft.Myers, Florida, USA – 1 Mission – Attended 985 Patients
  • Guanajuato, Guanajuato – 13 Missions – Attended 35,925 Patients
  • Guatemala, Central America – 8 Missions – Attended 10,842 Patients
  • Guyana, SA- 1 Mission – Attended 5,000 Patients
  • Hopi, Arizona, USA – 1 Mission – Attended 485 Patients
  • Huatulco, Oaxaca – 6 Missions – Attended 9,202 Patients
  • La Penita, Nayarit – 2 Missions – Attended 5,190 Patients
  • Lima-Lurin Valley, Peru – 1 Mission – Attended 1,400 Patients
  • Manzanillo, Mexico – 1 Mission – Atended 2,572 Patients
  • Merida, Yucatan – 7 Missions – Attended 12,703 Patients
  • Mexico City, Mexico-1 Mission-Attended 2,550 Patients
  • Nicaragua – 1 Mission – Indiana University – Attended 2,000 Patients
  • Oaxaca, Oaxaca – 3 Missions – Attended 9,160 Patients
  • Parrita, Costa Rica-1 Mission-Attended 1486 Patients
  • Posoltege, Nicaragua -2 Missions – Attended 5,700 Patients
  • Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca – 6 Missions – Attended 12,938 Patients
  • San Alejo, El Salvador – 1 Mission – Attended 900 Patients
  • San Francisco, Nayarit – 1 Mission – Attended 2,700 Patients

Vision (continued)

  • San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala – 2 Mission – Attended 1,700 Patients + 1,500 Patients
  • San Luis de La Paz, Guanajuato – 1 Mission – Attended 1,850 Patients
  • San Pedro Pochutla, Oaxaca, Mexico – 1 Mission – Attended 1117
  • San Pedro Sula, Honduras – 1 Mission – Attended 3,000 Patients
  • Santa Ana, Oaxaca – 1 Mission – Attended 1,300 Patients
  • Santos Reyes Nopala, Mexico – 1 Mission – Attended 875 Patients
  • Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala – 1 Mission – Attended 1357 Patients
  • Tacna, Peru – 1 Mission – Attended 1,300 Patients
  • Tela, Honduras – 1 Mission – 804 Patients
  • Tepalcingo, Morelos, Mexico – 1 Mission – Attended 1735 Patients
  • Trujillo, Honduras – 2 missions – Attended 3138 patients
  • Uruapan, Michoacan – 1 Mission – Attended 3,500 Patients
  • Villahermosa, Tabasco – 10 Missions – Attended 25,450 Patients
  • Zihuatenejo, Mexico – 4 Missions – Attended 4,469 Patients


  • Mexico City, Mexico – 1 Mission – 140 Hearing Aids
  • Tepalcingo, Morelos, Mexico – 1 Mission – 124 Hearing Aids
  • Zihuatenejo, Mexico – 3 Missions – 297 Hearing Aids


  • Huatulco, Oaxaca – 5 Missions – 265 Cataract surgeries with I Care M.D.’s
  • San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala – 22 Cataract surgeries
  • Solola, Guatemala – 1 Mission – 40 Cataract surgeries
  • Trujillo, Honduras – 1 Mission – 58 surgical procedures