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Alfred 'Fred' Abramson, pharmacist turned professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, dies

Alfred 'Fred' Abramson, pharmacist turned professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, dies
The Pharmacy School's pharmacy practice laboratory is affectionately known as "Fred Lab," after Alfred "Fred" Abramson. (Handout)

Alfred “Fred” Abramson, an Essex pharmacist turned professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, where he became a beloved and respected figure, died Saturday from heart failure at Sinai Hospital. The Owings Mills resident was 84.

“As a faculty member, Fred made significant contributions to the school, teaching more than 4,000 pharmacy students the intricacies of community pharmacy practice,” School of Pharmacy Dean Natalie B. Eddington said in a statement announcing Mr. Abramson’s death.

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“He raised funds to establish and equip the original pharmacy practice lab, affectionately known as ‘Fred Lab,’ which opened in 2001, and featured sophisticated dispensing systems and software,” according to the statement. “He was also instrumental in designing the new Fred Lab during construction of the Pharmacy Hall addition in 2010.”

Alfred Abramson, was born in Baltimore and raised on Loyola Southway in Northwest Baltimore, the son of Leon Abramson, a lawyer who had served as City College president from 1955 to 1959, and his wife, Etta Sachs Abramson, a homemaker.

He was a 1952 graduate of City College and earned his pharmacy degree in 1956 from the University of Maryland, where he was a member of Alpha Zeta Omega fraternity.

Mr. Abramson worked as a pharmacist for the Read’s Drug Store chain before opening the Eastern Pharmacy on Marlyn Avenue in Essex in 1960.

He began his academic career at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in 1982 after selling his business.

As an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, Mr. Abramson’s role was teaching students pharmacy practice in what they affectionately dubbed the Fred Lab.

“Through Fred Lab and in-class lectures, Fred teaches first-, second- and third-year students,” according to a pharmacy school profile of Mr. Abramson. “In Fred Lab he uses patient counseling role-playing to emphasize the importance of communication.”

Mr. Abramson also earned a reputation for going beyond his classroom duties and was always willing to advise his students on personal, educational or professional issues.

“He was a wonderful guy and he loved teaching and loved his students,” said Dr. Fred Magaziner, a Pikesville resident and former pharmacist who became a dentist. “He graduated from pharmacy school two years after I did, and of course I knew him when he had the drugstore in Essex.”

Jonas J. Yousem, a retired Baltimore pharmacist, is a longtime friend.

“Fred has been a good friend for years,and years and years, and as a pharmacist, he was very prominent in the community and at the pharmacy school,” the Pikesville resident said. “He paid personal attention to his students and was up-to-date on what was going on. He was a very outgoing and friendly man who had lots of friends.”

Mr. Yousem added: “He loved his students and they loved him, and that’s why they named the lab after him. He also enjoyed helping and directing them in finding jobs.”

It was natural that during his three-decade career he was the recipient of numerous awards, among them Faculty Member of the Year, Preceptor of the Year, Best Class Adviser, Teacher of the Year, and Phi Lambda Sigma National Adviser of the Year.

The Maryland Pharmacists Association presented him their Seidman Distinguished Achievement Award as well as their first Mentor of the Year Award.

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He also served as class adviser for the pharmacy school’s student chapters of the National Community Pharmacists Association and Phi Lambda Sigma, an honor society for pharmacy students.

Mr. Abramson was also known for his 10 “Rules of Success,” which were posted in Fred Lab and some of which included, “It’s not a sin to make money;” “Don’t take anything personally,” “Talk slowly but think quickly;” “Be the first to forgive;” “Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality;” and “Never swap your integrity for money, power, or fame.”

He retired in 2013.

“Even in retirement, Fred stayed connected with the school, giving of his time, talents, and resources to support his alma mater,” said Dr. Eddington’s statement. “It was a happy day when we would see Fred in Pharmacy Hall, whether he was there for a meeting, an alumni or donor event, or simply to check in on us.”

He was an avid tennis player and was a member of the old Mercantile Club and the Hilton Tennis Club.

“He continued playing until four years ago,” said his wife of 63 years, the former Jeanette Green, a retired social worker.

In addition to travel, he was an inveterate sports fan.

“He loved the Baltimore Colts, Orioles and Ravens,” said his wife, who said a highlight of her husband’s life was having a photograph taken with his idol, Johnny Unitas.

Mr. Abramson was a member of Har Sinai Congregation.

Services were held Monday at Sol Levinson & Bros. in Pikesville.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Edward J. “Eddie” Abramson of North Hollywood, Calif.; a daughter, Lisa A. Scott of Summit, N.J.; and two grandchildren.

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