Dr. Gerald E. Schumacher, 83, of Wellesley, died on February 20, 2021, after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Known fondly to all as Jerry, Schumacher is survived by his wife of 54 years, Florence Steinberg Schumacher, and his children: Paul Schumacher, Winter Bonnin and her husband John, David Schumacher, his late son Evan Schumacher’s wife Suzanne Schumacher; grandchildren Jamie, Luke, Jake, Sari, and Sophie Schumacher, Alex and Zack Bonnin, Jeremy Snider and his wife Katie; and two great-grandchildren, Abigail and Ethan Snider. He is also survived by his brother, Larry Schumacher, several nephews and a large extended family.
A giant in the field of pharmacy education, Schumacher was a distinguished professor at Northeastern University for more than 30 years, including serving as Dean of the School of Pharmacy and Allied Health. He was a trailblazer in pharmacy education, authoring a textbook, numerous book chapters, and hundreds of scholarly articles and clinical presentations. An annual award in his name is given to a professor at Northeastern showing significant contributions to the field. He is remembered for his tireless scholarship and teaching, as well as his trademark understated wit and kind nature.
Jerry Schumacher was born on May 24, 1937, in Detroit, Michigan. He was the older son of Alex and Frances Schumacher. Shortly after his birth, the family relocated to Lincoln, Nebraska, where his father owned a drugstore. He spent many hours in the store, developing at an early age a lifelong interest in the field of pharmacy. As a teenager, Schumacher’s family relocated to Los Angeles. There he developed a passion for music, a talent he nurtured over the years to become a professional jazz saxophone and clarinet player.
Dr. Schumacher attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California where he graduated from the School of Pharmacy with a PharmD. In college, the multi-talented Schumacher studied hard, played in the USC marching band, and supported himself playing jazz gigs and ghostwriting stories for published authors. After he graduated, he worked in the UCLA pharmacy, rising to senior manufacturing pharmacist. It was here that he met Florence Steinberg, a UCLA sophomore. They were married in 1966.
That same year, Schumacher accepted a teaching position at the University of Toledo, beginning an outstanding academic career. During this time, Schumacher’s prodigious capacity for scholarship and hard work was on full display. In addition to his full-time teaching responsibilities, Schumacher pursued his Ph.D. from Wayne State University, commuting 75 miles each way—all while starting a family. In 1969, son, Evan was born, followed by David in 1971. Jerry also had two children, Paul and Winter, from a prior marriage to Marti Stark Thompson.
In 1972, Jerry achieved his doctorate from Wayne State University School of Pharmacy, and the college immediately offered him a professorship. By 1976, he was promoted to Deputy Dean of the college. By this point, Schumacher was establishing a reputation as a trailblazer in the field of clinical pharmacy. Schumacher believed passionately that pharmacists should not merely fill prescriptions, but they should also serve as active members of a patient’s clinical team, assisting patients by helping physicians choosing the most effective medication for their ailments.
In 1978, Northeastern University recruited Dr. Schumacher to Boston to serve as Dean of the School of Pharmacy and Allied Health. Jerry taught at Northeastern for 30 years, retiring in 2008 as professor emeritus. He educated thousands of pharmacists and produced an impressive body of scholarship. Schumacher authored a textbook, “Therapeutic Drug Monitoring,” in addition to hundreds of book chapters, peer-reviewed articles and clinical presentations.
Among his many awards and honors, Jerry was elected as the president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). Along with his longtime colleague Judith Barr, he established the National Education and Research Center for Outcome Assessment in Health Care at Northeastern. His contributions to the field of pharmacy were widely recognized over the years, receiving numerous awards, including the honor of distinguished alumnus from both USC and Wayne State. In perhaps his crowning achievement, in 1999 he was recognized by AACP for Outstanding Achievement and Contributions to Pharmaceutical Education. Notwithstanding this recognition, Schumacher always derived the greatest professional satisfaction from teaching. He taught a full course load during his entire tenure at Northeastern, and he believed in challenging his students—always with a dose of humor. In the words of a colleague:
“If I were to identify one word that best typifies Jerry Schumacher, it has to be the word excellence. He sets the highest standards for himself in everything he does. You can guarantee that if he is asked to speak on some subject in his field or on a topic of which he knows little about, he is going to thoroughly research that area and give you the best synopsis on the issue in that field that you’ve ever heard.”
The Schumachers and their beloved lab, Tippy, lived in Needham for 30 years before Jerry and his wife moved to Wellesley in 2008.
In 2007, at age 70, Jerry was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. While his condition was manageable at first, it hastened his retirement from Northeastern. He spent his remaining 13 years with his beloved wife Florence and their extended family. He was a rabid sports fan, cheering on his beloved Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Northeastern Huskies, USC Trojans, and Nebraska Cornhuskers. He was also a lifelong aficionado of jazz, art, and enjoyed reading mysteries. He loved spending time with his grandchildren, such as watching his grandson Jamie’s baseball games and Luke’s theatrical performances. Schumacher had a special bond with his son, Evan, who died at age 46 from cholangiocarcinoma five years ago.
Gerald Schumacher is remembered as a Renaissance man who left a tremendous legacy in the field of pharmacy education where he devoted his many talents during a prestigious career.
Due to the pandemic, the funeral service will be private. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in Jerry’s name may be made to: The Gerald Schumacher Pharmacy Faculty Award Fund, Development Office, Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115.
To view a recording of the service click here