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A recent gift to the pharmacy school comes with a long history.

It all started in 1928 when Charles Mignone, a 1917 graduate of the New Jersey College of Pharmacy (which later became Rutgers’ Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy), opened the Mi-Ra Drug Stores in Hackensack and Bogota. When the time came, he sent his daughter, Vivian Mignone PHAR’40, to Rutgers to prepare her to work in the store with him.

And there the story would have ended had she, a first-year student, not fallen for a senior named Rosario “Russ” Mannino PHAR’37. Years later, she would tell her two sons that it was his stunning sports jacket that caught her eye when she was on the lobby’s stairs of the pharmacy school that day. But Russ knew better; he always swore it was his good looks that knocked her off her feet. At any rate, their meeting of the minds ensured the continued success of Mi-Ra.

When their younger son, Ron, decided to pursue the pharmaceutical profession, there was no question that he, too, would go to Rutgers. (His older brother, William, also is a pharmacist as were his uncles, Joseph and the late Alfred Mannino.)

“I spent my second year in the old building, where my parents met,” says Ron PHAR’74. “And I was in the first full-curriculum class to graduate from what was called the new building, the one that’s being expanded now.”

Ron, co-founder of the pharmaceutical companies Interchem and WorldGen and president of the New Jersey Pharmacists Association Region 1, and his wife, Suzi, a coronary intensive-care nurse, are honoring their family’s Rutgers roots with a significant donation to the school.

“We’re going to name a space in the addition and dedicate it to my mom and dad, who were devoted to the profession, Rutgers, and each other,” he says. “I can think of no better way to honor their memory.”

Ron says his parents’ success came from their hard work and generosity. “If someone could not afford medicine, they would give it to them,” he says. “My dad worked his way through Rutgers at a pharmacy. The owners couldn’t pay him, but he wanted to learn as much as he could, so he asked them to buy him the Remington book, the Bible of our profession. That’s all he wanted.”

Ron was honored to receive from his father, who was a former president of the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, the group’s annual Pharmacist of the Year award established in Russ’s name.

Like Russ, an award-winning pharmacist who served on Rutgers’ advisory board for three terms and was chair of the 12th annual Rutgers Pharmaceutical Conference, Ron has kept close ties with his alma mater, supporting it through annual contributions.

“My parents died, in 2007 and 2008, four months from each other, just shy of their 65th wedding anniversary,” he says. “I told my dad about my gift, and he was pleased because without the pharmacy school, our family literally would not exist. I never dreamed, when I was sitting in college, that one day part of the building would be named for us.”

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