Donald Aronson, a retired Annapolis pharmacist and civic leader, died in his sleep of an apparent heart attack Feb. 11 at his home. He was 69.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Moreland Avenue, he was a 1952 graduate of City College, where he appeared in student productions of Harvey and Brigadoon. After serving in the Maryland National Guard, he earned a degree from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.
He initially filled prescriptions at a Shure's Pharmacy in Northwest Baltimore. He then moved to Annapolis and the Leader Drug Co. on Taylor Avenue. Mr. Aronson later purchased Gilbert's Pharmacy on State Circle, opposite the State House, which he ran for a decade.
"He filled prescriptions for governors and the residents who lived in the old Carvel Hall," said his wife of 47 years, the former Shirley Cooper, with whom he worked. "He was really an old-time pharmacist because he made his own compounds.
Before retiring several years ago, Mr. Aronson was an associate director in the Office of International Affairs for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Rockville.
Mr. Aronson was a former chairman of the Anne Arundel County Human Relations Commission and Annapolis Human Relations Commission. The Frontiers Club, an African-American group, honored him for contributions to civil rights.
He was a member of Kneseth Israel Synagogue, where services were held Friday and where he served two terms as president and sat on its board of governors for 21 years. He was also a past commander of the Annapolis post of Jewish War Veterans and was a life member of B'nai B'rith. He was a co-founder of the Annapolis African-American Jewish Coalition.
He enjoyed leading walking tours of old Baltimore and taping oral histories of elderly Annapolis Jewish residents.
"He was a passionate worker," said Rudolf B. Lamy, a friend and librarian at the state law library in Annapolis. "When he entered a cause or took a job, he put his whole heart into it."
In addition to his wife, survivors include two sons, Jonas Cooper Aronson of Gallatin, Tenn., and Edward Irvin Aronson of Annapolis; a daughter, Debra Joan Aronson Overton of Rapidan, Va.; a brother, A. Joel Aronson of North Potomac; nine grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.