Don Oliver and his wife, Jerreann, have a story to tell anyone who will listen.
A 1962 graduate of the College of Pharmacy, Don sat down recently with Major Gifts Officer Gordon Thomas to share his thoughts about his career at Oliver Drug Store in Thomasville, Ga., and why he is committed to giving back to the institution that provided his pharmacy education. He and Jerreann recently donated $25,000 to help establish the Class of 1962 scholarship, which was matched with another $25,000 from the UGA Foundation. Oliver’s words were so poignant that rather than write a story, the editors opted to use Oliver’s own words. You’ll be inspired when you read his message.
In His Own Words: Don and Jerreann’s Story of Giving:
I have always lived in Thomasville, Ga., except for three years, 1963-66, when I was a pharmacy officer, First Lieutenant, at Patterson Army Hospital, Fort Monmouth, NJ.
My dad was a pharmacist and a partner at one of the oldest pharmacies in Georgia, and he put me to work when I was 13 years old. My job was cleaning the shelves in the prescription department and being a clerk in training. By the time I was 16, I knew how to type, and he taught me how to read the directions on prescriptions and type the labels. I became the original pharmacy technician!
My senior year in high school, I decided to be an engineer and attend Georgia Tech. Oh, what a mistake that would have been! Fortunately, they lost my application, and with my dad’s encouragement, I decided to go to pharmacy school. It was late in the year, but he had connections as he had been a member of the State Board of Pharmacy, and he knew Dean Kenneth Waters. One phone call, and I was accepted into the freshman class of 1958 at the University of Georgia.
After graduation in 1962, I worked with my dad again as an intern for a year before taking the Board of Pharmacy exam. Florida did not require a lengthy internship, so I passed the Florida Board in the fall of 1962. I was licensed in Georgia in February 1963. That’s when the Draft Board came calling! I was able to receive a deferment so that I could obtain a commission, and in June, I was commissioned into the Medical Service Corps of the U. S. Army.
After my tour of duty in New Jersey, we moved back to Thomasville, and I assumed my previous position as a pharmacist. My dad died in 1969 and working there was not the same. In 1972, I resigned, and Jerreann and I started planning and building our new pharmacy. We opened Oliver’s Drug Store in September 1973 and started what would turn out to be a very successful business. We sold it after 32 years in business.
My parents impressed upon my sister and I the importance of education. We were both expected to go to college and graduate, which we both did. We were fortunate to have parents who were good providers and could afford to pay our way. I realized that I had high school classmates who should have gone to college but could not afford the expense. It’s sad to say, but that still exists today, and I hope that the contributions we made can ease that monetary burden for students who need it. I can’t think of a better way to give than to help someone become a pharmacist and join this most gratifying profession.
Dolly Levi of Hello Dolly said it best:
“Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”
We should all spread it around more.
The Class of 1962 Scholarship will be a need-based, financial award for a worthy and eligible PharmD student. Donors look forward to the scholarship being awarded in the near future.
For further information, contact Gordon Thomas.