Donald O. Fedder, pharmacy owner

He later taught, established program that trained health workers to aid high-risk populations suffering from chronic diseases

September 02, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Donald Owen Fedder, a former pharmacy owner who later had a second career teaching and conducting research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, died Saturday of pancreatic cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care.

Dr. Fedder, who lived at The Towers of Harbor Court, was 83.

"Don was a wonderful colleague and friend. He was thoughtful, insightful and always willing to share his views and advice. This has been a very difficult loss for the school," said Dr. Natalie D. Eddington, dean of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

"He has left an indelible mark on our school, and we will sorely miss him," she said.

The son of grocers, Dr. Fedder was born in Baltimore and raised on Light Street. After graduating in 1944 from City College, he attended Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College, before serving in the Army from 1945 to 1946.

After being discharged, he enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, from which he earned his pharmacy degree in 1950.

For the next 22 years, Dr. Fedder owned and operated Fedder's Pharmacy on Wise Avenue in Dundalk.

"I found out what a real community pharmacy was all about when in the wintertime, parents who had prescriptions for sick children were taken first and no one else minded," said retired Baltimore County Circuit Judge John F. Fader II.

Judge Fader, who was a pharmacist then, worked part time for Dr. Fedder from 1965 to 1968 while attending the University of Maryland School of Law.

"I remember there was a steel strike, and our accounts receivable suddenly went from $450 to $40,000. I asked Don if he was worried about that and he said, 'This is the third steel strike I've been through, and in a couple of months it'll be back down,' and they were," Judge Fader said.

He said Dr. Fedder never had to worry about his hard-working Dundalk customers, whom he described as "the salt of the earth," because they always paid their bills.

"He had great faith in the community, and they in him," he said.

"People in the community depended on Fedder's, and they were treated like family. They would come in and ask for advice and they received it. Physicians would drop in and say hello. In many ways, it was like a time from yesteryear," Judge Fader recalled.

In 1972, Dr. Fedder sold the business and launched a second career in 1974 as an academic at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, where he was a clinical instructor.

Dr. Fedder earned a master's degree in 1978 and his doctorate in 1982 in public health from what is now the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

While working in the university's department of pharmaceutical health services research, Dr. Fedder established the ENABLE program in 1987 and oversaw its operation for the next 20 years. It trained community health workers to aid high-risk populations with chronic diseases.

"The program enhanced health-seeking behavior in various areas of Baltimore City, and he worked with community health workers. He trained them, and after they completed training, they go out into neighborhoods. It was a community-based project," Dr. Eddington said.

"Don was also a very giving mentor. He always took the time to be supportive of the graduate students and junior faculty members. He was a very focused and caring mentor who continued providing guidance as they moved on into their careers," Dr. Eddington said.

"I've known him since I was a pharmacy school student here in the 1980s," said Dr. Ilene Zuckerman, a professor and chair of the pharmaceutical health services research department. "He had always been an inspiration to me because of changing his life in midcareer and for his ability to continue to learn. That really inspired me."

She said that Dr. Fedder had "three passions."

"He had a passion for learning, public health and the well-being of his patients," she said.

Dr. Frank Palumbo has been a professor in the pharmacy school for 30 years and was a longtime friend.

"Don was a force in public health as it related to pharmacy and pharmaceutical care," Dr. Palumbo said. "He was always a good colleague, well-respected in the health care community, and never lost his pharmacy roots."

Dr. Palumbo recalled his colleague as being "very friendly and outgoing," and "while straightforward, easy to talk to."

Dr. Fedder, who retired last year and was given emeritus status, continued to maintain an office and presence at the pharmacy school.

At a reception held at the time of his retirement, Dr. Fedder quoted from one of his favorites, Woody Allen, the School of Pharmacy newsletter reported.

"Often, the major criterion for awards is just showing up. During my career, I just kept showing up. And I am the one who benefited the most," Dr. Fedder said. "My plan when I graduated in 1950 wasn't to become a faculty member here and then go to graduate school."

He then invoked the words of another favorite, Yogi Berra.

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it. The 'fork in the road' saying is a metaphor for opportunity and challenge," Dr. Fedder said. "I've confronted many forks during my life, and the choices I made weren't always perfect. But I've had the amazing good fortune to work with so many smart and creative people, especially my students."

Dr. Fedder was an avid traveler and reader. He was a member of the American Institute of Wine and Food.

Services were held Tuesday.

Surviving are his wife of 23 years, the former Michaeline Kahn; a son, Dr. Ira Fedder of Baltimore; a daughter, Debbie Goren of Silver Spring; a stepson, Alan Adler of Bakersfield, Calif.; a stepdaughter, Lisa McCarthy of Singapore; and eight grandchildren. An earlier marriage to Norma Kolodner ended in divorce.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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