"Because of the extensive eye injuries, he asked Ross to go, and he quickly said, 'I'm coming,'" said Mrs. Solarz.

"Ross did all of these humanitarian missions without urging. He saw the need, picked himself up and went," she said. "He was never paid for any of this and did it on his own. He was always giving of himself."

Dr. Brechner also accompanied the congressman, whom he had known since he was 6, on diplomatic missions to South Africa, the former Soviet Union and Indonesia.

He also traveled to Uzbekistan, Egypt, Tibet and Vietnam on medical missions.

Since 1977, Dr. Brechner had gone on more than 80 volunteer ophthalmic surgical missions to Mexico with an old friend, Dr. Thomas R. Robinson, a retired Alexandria, Va., ophthalmologist.

He first became acquainted with Dr. Brechner during their days at Tulane, when Dr. Robinson was chief resident.

"We began talking about my trips to Mexico, and he said he wanted to participate. Because he only had one eye, we had him complete some additional surgical training. He also used special equipment and he became an excellent eye surgeon," said Dr. Robinson.

"We enjoyed going to Mexico where he did thousands of cataract surgeries," he said. "He found this so gratifying."

Dr. Robinson recalled a case when he was certain that a patient could not neurologically see and therefore was not a candidate for surgery, but Dr. Brechner persisted.

"I remember when he took off the bandages and asked the patient what the color was of his scrubs. He replied, 'Green.' Ross then asked the color of his tie, he replied, 'Black,'" said Dr. Robinson. "And then Ross started crying because he had restored the man's vision."

On another mission, an elderly blind Aztec woman who only spoke Nahuatl, an oral language, came to Drs. Robinson and Brechner.

"When the bandages were removed this woman, who had never spoken a word, began shouting, 'I can see! I can see!' This is why Ross went on these missions," Dr. Robinson said.

"The medical missions changed his life," said Ms. Brousseau.

He enjoyed running, hiking and collecting wines.

Services were Aug. 7.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Julie Schlegel of Columbia, S.C., and Kary Berry of Littleton, Colo.; a brother, David Brechner of Phoenix; and five grandchildren. An earlier marriage to the former Jean Monovan ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com