The Ben Taylor Smith Memorial Pharmacy Scholarship Endowment has been created to honor a University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy alumnus and provide support to the school’s students.
“Ben Smith was one of the closest and dearest friends I have ever had,” said Robert Buchanan (BSPh 59), Smith’s college roommate. “Pharmacy was a very important part of our lives.”
A gift from Buchanan and his wife, Georgia, initiated the scholarship. Upon learning of the Buchanans’ gesture, Gloria Franks Smith, Ben Smith’s widow, also contributed to bring the scholarship to endowment level. Her gift assured permanent recognition of her husband while meeting the needs of pharmacy students for generations to come.
The $25,000 endowment will provide assistance to students who are Mississippi residents in the professional pharmacy program with a grade-point average of at least 2.5.
Gloria Smith said she was delighted that Bob Buchanan chose to honor her husband’s legacy.
“Bob is a generous and caring man, and it is evident that he loved Ben Taylor Smith as Ben loved Bob,” said Gloria Smith, of Booneville. “The Buchanans are lifelong, special friends who have made an impact on our family. I know that both Bob and Ben will be remembered because of this scholarship.”
Ben Smith and Bob Buchanan came to Ole Miss as freshmen in fall 1954. They pledged Sigma Chi and in 1958 were among the first students to room in the fraternity’s new house. Coming from families with pharmacy backgrounds, the men graduated with Bachelor of Science in pharmacy degrees in 1959.
Smith and his friends were the quintessential Ole Miss gentlemen, Gloria Smith said. Her husband used to tell her about the “beautiful Ole Miss coeds” and the “glory days” of the John Vaught football era, she said.
“We saw Coach Vaught about 2004, and Ben – quite out of character – stopped him and his group to ask for an autograph for our young granddaughter,” Gloria Smith said. “Coach Vaught obliged, signing a brief note and signature on a paper napkin for us. Ben was so proud of it.”
As seniors, Buchanan and Smith commuted to Batesville and worked in pharmacies making just one dollar per hour to gain experience before entering the working world.
After graduation, the two friends parted ways. Buchanan worked in Columbia for his uncle Sid Armstrong (BSPh 27) – whom he honored with a scholarship in 1985 – before returning to Jackson. Smith went to work for a pharmacy in West Point, but ultimately returned to his roots in Booneville and worked for his father, Ben C. Smith (PhG 24). After his father passed away, Smith became owner of Smith Drugs and worked there for 55 years.
“Ben was fair, honest and respected,” Gloria Smith said. “The business was built on Christian principles from the beginning by his father and has been continued for 88 years.”
Smith and Buchanan’s friendship lasted well beyond their years at the School of Pharmacy.
“Ben and I had a lifelong friendship and continued to get together after we graduated,” Buchanan said. “We would go to New Orleans for the weekend and see each other at Ole Miss functions, ball games and Sigma Chi meetings. We were close friends.”
Gloria Smith said she hopes that the students who benefit from this endowment will be dedicated to pharmacy and honor what her husband stood for: the patient. She recalled an example of his relationship with customers.
“One lady told me a few months ago that she had planned to bring her new great-granddaughter to the store last spring for a picture with Ben because the little girl would have been a fifth-generation family member for Smith Drugs,” Gloria Smith said. “Ben was a trusted pharmacist and friend to his customers.”
To contribute to the Ben Taylor Smith Memorial Pharmacy Scholarship Endowment, mail a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655, or online at www.umfoundation.com/makeagift
. For more information, contact development director Raina McClure at email@example.com or (662) 915-6967.