Hawkeye Strong: Osterhaus Family to Receive Family Spirit Award

By Ben Frotscher

One spring afternoon in 1950, Bob Osterhaus (52BSPh) was in his University of Iowa room studying for a botany exam when fate came knocking.

“Bill Wallace, who lived down the hall, came to my door and asked if I wanted to join him and a girl from his hometown for a picnic at Lake Macbride,” says Bob. “I told him that I needed a date, so Bill found me one.”

That date turned out to be Ann Duhigg Osterhaus (52BA), and their first outing led to a lasting romance. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, she is something,’” says Bob, who has been married to Ann for more than 65 years.

Ann and Bob Osterhaus Ann and Bob Osterhaus

Neither Bob nor Ann could have envisioned that a picnic at Lake Macbride would be the start of a lasting connection with the University of Iowa. Now, 68 years later, three generations of Osterhauses have graduated from Iowa, and in turn, have become its strong advocates and supporters.

On Saturday, Nov. 10, the Osterhauses will be recognized as the inaugural recipients of the University of Iowa’s Family Spirit Award at halftime of the Iowa-Northwestern football game. The newly created award recognizes a Hawkeye family—spanning at least three generations—that supports, or volunteers time to, the University of Iowa and personally or professionally contributes toward bettering the state of Iowa and its communities.

A total of 46 Osterhaus family members will be in attendance for Family Weekend.

“The Osterhaus legacy of generosity and volunteerism is truly inspirational and has made a significant impact on the College of Pharmacy and the University of Iowa,” says Lynette Marshall, president and CEO of the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. “This is a well-deserved honor for a tremendous family, and I’m excited for them to receive the inaugural Family Spirit Award.”

The Iowa connection runs deep for the Osterhauses. Five of Bob and Ann’s children graduated from Iowa—the Rev. Mark Osterhaus (78BA), Matt Osterhaus (80BSPh), Jane Osterhaus (81BSPh), Molly Osterhaus Whitmore (84BSN) and Meg Osterhaus McNaught (87BS). In addition, three grandchildren are Iowa graduates and one is a current UI student.

“The University of Iowa played a large part in my upbringing and my husband’s, and our children have been singing the Iowa Fight Song since they could talk,” says Molly, whose husband, Robert Whitmore (86BSE), and in-laws also graduated from Iowa. “My parents have given so much back to Iowa, and I think it’s a great award to give on Family Weekend. It’s truly a special honor.”

Molly and her siblings developed these strong Iowa connections in Maquoketa, Iowa, where Bob owned and operated Osterhaus Pharmacy for 30 years. He tirelessly served the health needs of the community and was involved in numerous national and international pharmacy organizations.

Both Bob and his son, Matt—who now runs Osterhaus Pharmacy with his wife, Marilyn Slee Osterhaus (80BSPh)—have been active in statewide initiatives through advocacy and volunteerism in campaigns, councils, steering committees and boards. The father and son have served as presidents of the Iowa Pharmacy Association and the American Pharmacists Association; Bob and Ann received the Outstanding Community Partner Award from the UI Office of Outreach and Engagement for helping stimulate renewal efforts in Maquoketa; and Matt received the State of Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Award.

Osterhaus Pharmacy was one of the first pharmacies to host University of Iowa students from the post-graduate residency program for clinical rotations, and to date, more than 300 UI students and professionals have benefitted from these hands-on experiences. Today, Osterhaus Pharmacy continues to be a champion for pharmaceutical care, pharmacy education and the pharmacy profession in Iowa and around the world.

“The University of Iowa is part of the fabric of our lives,” says Matt, whose father-in-law, Jack Slee (58BSPh), also was a graduate of the UI College of Pharmacy. “We believe it’s a place that attracts people who want to go out and be successful—not only doing well in the world, but doing well for the world.”

Besides providing valuable learning opportunities for future pharmacists, the Osterhauses also have given financially to the university that has given them so much.

“We have made so many wonderful friendships at Iowa,” says Ann. “When you’ve been very fortunate—with happy lives and success in the community—you should give back with your time and your treasure, and we’ve tried to do that at the University of Iowa.”

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