The optometry group has four offices across Lake of the Ozarks: in Lake Ozark, Osage Beach, Camdenton, and Laurie.
For Brad and Rachel Engelbarts, the last year has been all about family.
The husband-wife optometry duo moved to Lake of the Ozarks in May, joining Family Eyecare Associates. The move was about being closer to family; Rachel (Bierman) grew up in Sunrise Beach, and much of her immediate and extended family still lives at the Lake. But why move closer to family now? Well, in January, Rachel gave birth to twins.
At that time, Brad was working in the U.S. Navy’s Medical Service Corps at Beaufort Naval Hospital, while Rachel practiced optometry with a multidisciplinary group.
“Our kids were born on the day that it snowed in Beaufort, South Carolina,” Brad said, laughing. Snow in coastal Beaufort is nearly unheard of, but the weather phenomenon wasn’t the most miraculous thing of the day. Brad and Rachel were celebrating a successful round of IVF, after struggling with infertility.
The Engelbarts documented their IVF journey on YouTube, mainly to keep family and friends updated, but their videos found a bigger audience. Their channel quickly grew, now with more than 33,000 subscribers, and their top video has 1.5 million views. Brad says their subscribers have been really supportive (“Most of the time!” Rachel chimes in), and while they’re mum on details, the couple hints they’ll soon be featured on a TV show, too.
Rachel grew up in Sunrise Beach. She graduated from Versailles High School and headed, like many local grads, to Missouri State University. She was Summa Cum Laude at MSU, and then obtained her Doctor of Optometry degree with honors from the University of Missouri - St. Louis College of Optometry.
Brad is an Illinois boy: born in Polo, Ill., he headed to the Army immediately after high school, where he served for six years. A Bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois led him to the University of Missouri - St. Louis’ College of Optometry. And that’s where their lives converged.
“We met first day of class, started dating second year, got engaged third year, and got married fourth year,” Brad recalled.
The Engelbarts were married on Nov. 2, 2013 at Seven Springs Winery, at Lake of the Ozarks, and they spent their first four years after optometry school in Beaufort.
On Jan. 2, 2018, Berend “Bear” and Lyndle “June Bug” were born. By May, the family of four had moved into Rachel’s parents’ basement at the Lake, while they house-hunted and began practicing at Family Eyecare. The optometry group has four offices across Lake of the Ozarks: in Lake Ozark, Osage Beach, Camdenton, and Laurie. Brad practices at the Laurie location, and Rachel is at the Camdenton and Lake Ozark offices.
“It’s such a family-friendly profession,” Brad said of their careers. “Rachel’s able to work part-time and stay home with the kids part-time.”
Brad’s interest in optometry began at a young age. “One of the coolest feelings as an optometrist is fitting a child with their first pair of glasses. I remember I was in 6th grade when I got my first pair of glasses, and it was like living in a whole new world. That’s the first time I took an interest in becoming an eye doctor.”
Dr. Eveland was Rachel’s optometrist as a child, and during college, she worked at Family Eyecare as a technician. Then Dr. Eveland set up an externship for Brad and Rachel while they were in optometry school, with the goal that they would return to the Lake and join the practice.
She grew up on the water: her father was a powerboating enthusiast and the family had a Cigarette for years. Now, as the family grows and needs more space, Brad and Rachel took the plunge and bought a Sea Ray cruiser with her parents. Living at the Lake as parents and professionals is a bit different than growing up here, Rachel pointed out. Networking and making friends takes more work: much of their human interaction is with patients—with whom there’s a kind of professional relationship—or their 10-month-olds. But she said she’s thrilled to be here, calling the Lake, “an awesome place to live!”
“We’re really happy to be back at the Lake,” Brad said. “It’s good to be home.”