Henry Lewis III was destined to study pharmacology, said his younger sister, Rosalyn Bryant. She said Lewis was nearly 11 years old when he asked for a chemistry set.
“Henry used to say he wanted to make medicine,” Bryant said. “Even then, he knew exactly what he wanted to do in life.”
Lewis said his road to pharmacy started with a woman.
“I actually went into this field because I was dating a girl who worked at Economy Drugs,” said the Tallahassee native. “I would visit her at work so much that the owner offered me a job.”
The storeowner introduced Lewis to Charles Walker, the pharmacy dean at the time.
“I found my life’s work,” said Lewis, who now serves as the dean of pharmacy.
His family, friends and associates always knew he was dedicated.
Daniel Grisham, an internist in South Carolina, was one of Lewis’ pharmacy classmate.
“Tootsie was always a serious student, but he never looked for notoriety,” Grisham said.
Grisham has called Lewis by his nickname, “Tootsie” since he met him, although Grisham said he’s not sure of its origin.
Lewis’ sister said he takes his work very seriously.
“Henry is very committed,” Bryant said. “He wants to take the pharmacy program to the highest level and make it the best in the country.”
He is doing just that. FAMU’s doctoral pharmacy program is currently ranked number one in the Southeast and number six nationwide.
In the past few months, he has secured over $20 million in funding for the program.
One of the more tangible rewards of his effort is the new building that the pharmacy program recently moved into. He admitted the faculty was initially skeptical about the project.
“They doubted we could build a new $30 million facility,” Lewis said. But, because of the [staff], there was success.”
Lewis said the University has been instrumental in his development.
“FAMU has always been in my blood and in my heart,” he said. “It gave me the training and skills I needed to succeed. I wanted to do that for my alma mater, too.”
In the spring of 2002, Lewis was named interim president of FAMU. He won the respect of many students by accomplishing what the student body deemed impossible – delivering net checks on time.
“Being interim president was a tremendous experience,” Lewis said. “It gave me a glimpse of FAMU through a new set of eyes.”
Contact Lindsay Pollard at email@example.com.