Doug Mastel remembered as an innovator

March 31, 2021
David Hutton

Doug Mastel, who founded Mastel Precision Surgical Instruments Inc., passed away on March 20. He was 67.

For four decades, Doug J. Mastel has been recognized as an innovative engineer who has tapped his knowledge and experience to develop surgical instruments for the ophthalmology industry.

Mastel, who founded Mastel Precision Surgical Instruments Inc. in 1981, passed away on March 20. He was 67.

Robert Osher, MD, professor of ophthalmology, College of Medicine, the University of Cincinnati, and medical director emeritus, Cincinnati Eye Institute, noted that Mastel was a master craftsman who was creative and innovative.

“In addition, he was a very kind gentleman who was respected by all who knew him,” Osher said. “Doug was a great resource for ophthalmologists who were interested in instrument design and he will be greatly missed.”

J.R. Singh, MD, MS, said Mastel was as exemplary a man as he was an engineer.

“I always felt he was my advocate, for designing instruments, getting surgical advice, anything at all,” he said, “even spare instrument boxes. What a loss for ophthalmology."

Singh has done business with the company for more than 25 years and he noted that Mastel has given to the industry of ophthalmology for 40 years.

“His main concern was never about money, but about the best outcome for any surgeon's patient,” he said.

He also noted that Mastel was generous with his employees, friends and family.

“He enjoyed spending time with them in sports, band, fishing, hunting,” he remembered. “He was generous to a stranger on the street or someone in need. Doug truly enjoyed what he did in ophthalmology. Working directly with doctors, designing new products, being in the operating room, or working with attendees in a wet lab.”

Company officials noted that the business will continue.

Mastel started his career as a metallurgical engineer in Houston, Texas, making diamond-tipped drill bits. With the encouragement of his brother-in-law, Alan Baribeau, an ophthalmologist, he founded the company that bears his name.

Baribeau had approached Mastel to make a diamond scalpel for corneal surgery. He developed ultra-thin blades, and in 1987 the company introduced the Baribeau MicronScope.

Born May 29, 1953 in Faith, South Dakota, Mastel studied metallurgical engineering at South Dakota School of Mines. 

Mastel demonstrated his creativity through the development of precision surgical instruments. He would never compromise quality, which was appreciated by his colleagues and employees (some of whom were with him more than 25 years).

On July 14, 1979, he married the former Patti Grass. They had two children, Nathan and Alyssa.

Mastel is survived by Patti, his wife of 41 years; son, Nathan and daughter, Alyssa (Tony) Krautbauer; sisters, Patricia (Dennis) Lunsford and Paulette (Alan) Baribeau; brother, Dave; and many extended family members.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Rainbow Bible Ranch in Sturgis, South Dakota, Love Inc., or a non-profit of your choice.

Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. April 6 at Open Bible Church. Visitation will be held one-hour prior to services.