Entrepreneur Laurie DuBow’s efforts to help pharmacy students reach their potential is making the world a healthier place for everyone
Christian Hampp (PHD ’09), his UF College of Pharmacy doctoral degree in hand, is an epidemiologist now with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So are Efe Eworuke (PHD ’13) and Wei Liu (PHD ’14). Stephen Linden (PHD ’13), meanwhile, is with a German pharmaceutical company and working on drug discoveries to treat cancer.
Another graduate is doing postdoctoral research at UF. Two others are in the earliest stages of their careers. One is interested in exploring the long-term consequences of using medications during pregnancy; the other wants to reduce epileptic seizures in children.
All are DuBow Family fellows, beneficiaries of a graduate student education fund named after Lawrence “Laurie” DuBow and his wife, Linda.
Giving back is a privilege. After a while, it just becomes what you do. It’s like eating breakfast, lunch and dinner — it’s just what you do.
— Laurie DuBow —
“The university has afforded us the opportunity to provide scholarships so that young people who have the desire and the aptitude to attend the College of Pharmacy, but maybe not the money to attend, can do so,” says DuBow, a Jacksonville entrepreneur and retired pharmacist. “That’s extremely rewarding.”
For the DuBows, the college experience transcends the classroom. Finding deeper meaning, self-worth and sense of purpose are just as important to them. Toward that end, the couple supports a long list of university programs, ranging from Athletics to Libraries.
“We don’t want to just grow their minds. We want to grow their total attitude and for them to understand what it is to be good citizens, good people,” DuBow says. “That’s very important to us: building good people.”
The Pharmacist Is In
Laurie DuBow jokes that he was born and raised in his father’s Chicago drugstore. So it’s understandable that he would follow his dad into the business. That his uncles and cousins were also pharmacists sealed DuBow’s fate.
“Everybody in my family was a pharmacist,” he says. “The drugstore was our life.”
No one was surprised when DuBow, at his mother’s urging, enrolled in the University of Illinois’ pharmacy college — an 18-year-old fresh out of high school in classes with World War II veterans. The unexpected came four years later, in 1953, when DuBow himself became a soldier, a Korean War draftee.
With his new degree awarded, DuBow was assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital — a “MASH” unit, like the one made famous in the 1970 film and for 11 seasons on television. But unlike the fictional characters, DuBow never inched closer than 11,000 miles or so to the front. The Koreans called a cease fire while DuBow was still training in Texas.
When he was finally discharged in 1956, DuBow’s first step was to move to Florida, where his parents and sister lived. Step 2: Meeting Linda, the future (and for more than 50 years) Mrs. DuBow. The third step: gambling on a business opportunity that would eventually make him a giant in wholesale pharmaceuticals, distributing medications to drugstores across the country.
In the decades since, DuBow has become a driving force in Jacksonville’s emergence as a major American city, including as a former partner in the Jaguars franchise introducing the National Football League to northeast Florida.
As the years passed, he also became one of Jacksonville’s most generous civic leaders and philanthropists. United Way, Jacksonville Housing Authority, Habitat for Humanity and the Super Bowl XXXIX host committee are some of the organizations he helped guide. There’s a reason for that commitment, DuBow says. He believes he has a responsibility to his community, especially to the children there.
“Giving back is a privilege,” DuBow says. “After a while, it just becomes what you do. It’s like eating breakfast, lunch and dinner — it’s just what you do.”
Though he’s reluctant to discuss the DuBow Family Foundation, which supports an array of programs, mostly in Jacksonville and at UF, he does offer that hanging onto money just for the sake of having it seems foolish.
“It ain’t going with you,” he says. “You might just as well do something good with it while you’re here and get that enjoyment; but, more importantly, teach your children, show your children how to give back.”
The Philanthropist and the University
The University of Florida is special to the DuBows. Their connection is more than that Gators run in the family. In UF, the DuBows see endless possibilities.
“We think higher education is important, and the prime institution of higher learning in the state of Florida is the University of Florida. My son [Michael (MBA ’87)] went there, my daughter [Susan (BSBR ’84)] went there, my wife was a student there for a short time and I had an opportunity to become familiar with the College of Pharmacy,” DuBow explains.
“It was a natural thing for us to want to do something with an institution of higher learning, and there are none better than the University of Florida.”
The DuBows’ investments in UF go beyond sharing their treasure. Over the years, DuBow has served on a number of university boards and councils: among them, the UF Foundation Board, UF Health Jacksonville Board and the College of Pharmacy’s development and national boards, as well as the college’s campaign council. For DuBow, it’s important to have firsthand experiences with the organizations he supports.
“If you’re going to put your money in there, you need to touch it and taste it and smell it,” DuBow says. “Where we make major gifts, major involvement, we like to know what they’re doing with it. I feel an obligation to my family and our foundation to make sure we’re getting the best bang for the buck, and that the agency is fulfilling its mission.”
He likes what he sees in UF — the university’s aspirations, its leadership and stability, and, especially, its ability to help generations of students move forward in their life journeys.
“We support the university, but any support that we give to schools or institutions of higher learning, it’s all about the children. That’s what’s important,” DuBow says.
“If we’re not educating and supporting children from pre-school all the way to a doctorate degree, then we’re missing something. We’re not doing the right thing.”