Dr. Joel Norman Zaba

by | Feb 23, 2023 | Obituaries

Norfolk—Dr. Joel Norman Zaba of Norfolk, 78, passed away in his home on February 1, 2023 with his wife Diane, friend Tricia and his loving four dogs by his side.

Born to the late Benjamin Zaba and Rubye Hillman Zaba in Norfolk, Joel graduated from Maury High School in 1962. He attended the College of William & Mary and graduated in 1966. Dr. Zaba was then encouraged by his brother-in-law, Dr. Harvey Aftel OD, to attend the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis where he graduated with a degree in Optometry in 1969. Dr. Zaba later received a master’s degree from the University of Maryland from the Institute of Child Study in human growth and development.

In 1972, Dr. Zaba opened his practice on West Little Creek Road in Norfolk and later moved his practice in 1997 to Pembroke One in Virginia Beach. Dr. Zaba specialized in working with children with learning disabilities. He influenced his nephew Brian Aftel to become a Vision Therapist and work at his practice to help children with learning related vision issues. Dr. Zaba published his research and lectured internationally on the connection between children, learning, and vision. He appeared on CNN and The Today Show to talk about children’s vision and learning.

In 2015 Dr. Zaba received the Virginia Optometric Association’s Achievement Award for his service to the community and visual welfare to the public. In 2016 he received the Southern College of Optometry’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for his research in Visual Related Learning Problems.

Joel loved books and had a huge library on the third floor of their house. He was also a huge fan of old classic movies as well as current shows and was often at the Naro Theater on Colley Ave in Ghent. He was an active member at Ohef Sholom Temple and loved all types of music from Cantor Jen and Rabbi Roz singing songs to folk music from longtime friends Bob and Jeannie Zentz.

Dr. Zaba is survived by his wife of 34 years, Diane Michelle Zaba; his sister Diane Zaba Aftel of Norfolk; his two nephews Brian H. Aftel and Andrew W. Aftel; and numerous cousins.

Memorial contributions may be made to Jewish Family Service or Ohef Sholom Temple. A memorial service took place with Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg officiating.