Former UM Pharmacy Chair Remembered for Integrity, Leadership

Frank Gilmore

Frank Gilmore, former chair and professor emeritus in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Department of BioMolecular Sciences, died Feb. 14 after a lengthy battle with lymphoma.

A visitation for Gilmore is scheduled for 9:30-11 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 24) at Coleman Funeral Home of Oxford, where a celebration of his life will immediately follow.

Gilmore is remembered as a pragmatic and honest leader, known for his integrity and willingness to help others. He came to the School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry in 1967 and became the chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, later renamed to medicinal chemistry, only two years later. He served the department as chair from 1969 to 1979 and again in 1988-1993.

“I think what most distinguished my father was his honesty, his hard work and his generosity,” said Gilmore’s son, Paul. “He truly enjoyed his time at the School of Pharmacy. He was always ready to share any accomplishments with others and he truly put his students above all else.

“I think the impact he had was due to the pleasure he took in helping others, whether in the lab, helping with a building project or cutting firewood for someone. If anything, he was generous with his time and energy to a fault.”

Gilmore’s life began in the Lauderdale County community of Bailey, where he was born in 1935. His son credits his father’s upbringing in the Depression-era South with imparting in him a sense of determination and work ethic.

He graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1957 and earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1961. Following his doctorate, he served in the U.S. Army, where he met and married his wife, Ann.

After finishing his military service as a captain, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Florida State University and worked at Midwest Research Institute in Kansas City before coming to the School of Pharmacy in 1967. During his time at the school, he won its Teacher of the Year award twice.

John Williamson, professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry and former colleague of Gilmore, remembers him as “the conscience of the school.”

“No one would disagree that he had the highest level of integrity of all of us,” Williamson said. “Frank was always the one to point out right from wrong, regardless of internal politics. I am blessed to have been his friend and to have seen what the man with the most integrity is actually like.”

As a scientist, he pioneered explorations in peptidomimetics – a term that Williamson credits Gilmore with coining – as that study was just beginning to emerge, and conducted research in phosphorus chemistry and immunology.

Gilmore went on to become vice president for academic affairs at West Virginia University Institute of Technology before finishing his career as chancellor of Montana Tech at the University of Montana from 1998 to 2011. After retirement, Gilmore and his wife remained part-time residents of Oxford, spending the rest of their time at their home in Montana.

“Dr. Gilmore was a remarkable mentor and colleague who had a great impact on our school and those lucky enough to know him,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “He will be sincerely missed.”

He is survived by his wife, Ann; children Kristin Newman and Paul Gilmore; three grandchildren; and his loving, extended family.


By Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

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