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$50K scholarship gift to WVU School of Pharmacy honors late alumna

Norma DeMary Hammons

Norma DeMary Hammons

The West Virginia University School of Pharmacy is expanding scholarship opportunities for students thanks to a $50,000 gift from a late alumna’s family.

Enterprise, West Virginia, native Norma DeMary Hammons graduated from WVU in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. In a science-heavy profession with few women in the field, she was a pioneer in the industry.

Hammons was a longtime supporter of the White Coat fund, which enables students to receive their white coats as they enter pharmacy school. Students receive their white coats at a special ceremony, during which they pledge to improve their patients’ health and quality of life as future healthcare professionals.

Before Hammons’ passing, she requested a gift be made to the fund. When her family later received a handwritten thank-you letter and picture of a student who benefited, they inquired about creating a scholarship in her memory.

“She always believed in giving back to the University and supporting younger people in the profession,” Norma’s children said. “We wanted to honor that legacy and how important the school of Pharmacy was to her.” 

William Petros, dean and Gates Wigner Endowed Chair at the School of Pharmacy, said the Hammons family’s gift will make a difference in the lives of future pharmacists.

"Norma's legacy is a testament to the power of education and the impact one individual can have on the profession and the community," Petros said. "We are deeply grateful for this contribution, strengthening our mission to educate the next generation of pharmacy leaders. We are investing in a healthier tomorrow for everyone by supporting our students today."

Hammons’ children, Jim Hammons and Anne Hammons Aunins, established a namesake scholarship to honor their mother, who passed away Jan. 11, 2023. A subsequent gift has increased the size of the scholarship fund. The Norma DeMary Class of 1960 Pharmacy Scholarship provides financial support for students pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, as determined by School of Pharmacy leadership.

After graduation, Hammons moved to Charleston, West Virginia, to take a job with an independent pharmacy. She met her husband, James Harvey Hammons, there and started a family. Eventually, she joined a larger company that became a part of CVS. She was a pharmacist for more than 50 years.

Hammons’ children understand the high cost of college and impact of student loans. Anne attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Virginia for chemical engineering. Jim also attended UVA, where he studied history, economics and law.

“If we can defray a little bit for a student each year, even a fraction of the cost, I think that takes away some of the pressure and stress in their life,” Anne said.

“The costs have gotten so high,” Jim added. “A little bit of money from West Virginia University will really bond and attract students who might have opportunities elsewhere.”

Norma and James Hammons later retired to Dataw Island outside of Beaufort, South Carolina, where she took and passed the South Carolina pharmacy boards more than 45 years after she graduated from WVU.

Despite being away from West Virginia, Hammons loved her Mountaineers. She closely followed the University’s basketball and football teams. 

“When my parents moved and we were cleaning up the house, I found score sheets where my mother would keep score of West Virginia basketball games – including Jerry West games – while listening on the radio,” Jim said. “She was a huge Mountaineer sports fan and would watch every game that was on.”

Hammons’ career, family and heritage were a big part of who she was. She also enjoyed traveling, catching up with friends and fashion. According to her children, there was no business casual. She always donned 3-inch heels, skirts and lovely clothes as a pharmacist.

The Hammons family’s gift was made through WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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