By Josie Brown
For Dr. W. Ronald Redmond ’66 and his wife, Margaret, philanthropy is not a passive pursuit, but a passionate one. Many organizations have been recipients of their generosity, including the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, Casa Romantica Cultural Centers and Gardens in San Clemente and the University of California, Riverside. But the philanthropic endeavor second to none in their hearts is the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.
For a quarter of a century, the Redmonds’ donations have been the driving force of much of the school’s philanthropic outreach. From 1998 to 2006, Ron chaired the largest donor drive in the history of the school: the Commitment to Excellence campaign, which raised in excess of $65 million.
[pullquote]There are three things important for me: family, career and fun, in that order. – Ron Redmond[/pullquote]
Besides being a former member of the Universitiy’s Board of Regents, Ron has served on the Pacific Dugoni Foundation for almost two decades. Along with Dr. Gary Weiner ’66, Mr. Gary Mitchell and Dr. Gabby Thodas ’77, ’95 Ortho, Ron is currently one of the four co-chairs for the Dugoni School of Dentistry’s Building Our Future, Embracing Our Legacy initiative, which will secure the purchase of the school’s seven-story new campus at 155 Fifth Street, between Mission and Howard Streets, in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) district.
Margaret is in full support of his endeavors on the school’s behalf. In fact, she jokingly says, “I love it! It gives me some time away from him.”
For this dynamic duo, the act of giving is much more intimate than merely opening a wallet. You’ll find the Redmonds at every school celebration, many times with other family members at their side. The table of Redmonds at the dental school’s last Legacy Ball is one example of this, as is their participation in the school’s Kids in the Klinic fundraising fashion show, which became a family rite of passage for the Redmonds’ grandchildren. They have also been active sponsors of the annual Kids in the Klinic Golf Classic.
Like most life journeys, the Redmonds’ path to philanthropy was a combination of happenstance, personal and shared experiences and their mutual appreciation of those institutions that have enriched their lives. “Margaret is my balance, my pendulum and my center,” Ron says. “If it were up to me alone, I’d give away the store. But Margaret has the ability to see the big picture. She is the visionary. I was lucky she fell in love with me.”
[pullquote]The philanthropic endeavor second to none in their hearts is the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.[/pullquote]
Margaret’s wise smile is all he needs to know she feels exactly the same way.
Their love affair might never have happened if it weren’t for Ron’s Ping-Pong skills. Or, more honestly, the lack thereof. “I thought he was cute because he let me beat him at Ping-Pong,” Margaret recalls. “And he loves dogs as much as I do. From an 18-year-old’s perspective, that certainly qualified him as the perfect man.”
As for Ron, he knew she was the right girl for him because, as he puts it, “She didn’t jump out of the car when I told her that someday I’d have a daughter named Susie, and a son named Billy.”
Both came from middle class working families in the Los Angeles area—Margaret is from San Gabriel and Ron is from Pomona—and both worked their way through college. Three years after their first meeting, they married in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Halloween. “We knocked on the minister’s door. His wife opened it and gave us a wary look,” Margaret says. Then she asked, ‘Aren’t you too old for this?’ We thought she was out of her mind! It wasn’t until two trick-or-treaters walked up behind us that we realized she’d gotten the wrong impression as to why we were there.”
The ring Ron gave Margaret was one he had purchased from a friend whose engagement had been broken. He set aside a little money each month until it was paid off. “I was so nervous about asking her to marry me that instead I asked her to look in the glove compartment of the car, where I had stashed the tiny velvet ring box.” His surprise was met with squeals of delight. “I had no idea if it would fit. I was relieved to see it did,” Ron says. “But when I asked her to put it back in the box, she said, ‘No way!’ It was our very first argument.”
Since then, it has been a 51-year love affair. “There are three things important for me: family, career and fun, in that order,” Ron says.
As for their shared passion for the Dugoni School of Dentistry, it started with a typographical error. “I’m a member of the Class of 1966. Of the original 66 students, by graduation, that number had dwindled to just 40,” Ron explains. “There was no counseling back then. It was sink or swim. We would have benefitted greatly from the humanistic model of education, which is practiced at the school today.” As with most trials by fire, a solidarity was forged between Ron and his classmates, which continues to this day. Despite their friendships and the rigorous education that prepared them for successful careers, neither Ron nor his classmates were motivated to give back to the school. Several years after graduation, when Ron purchased a subscription to the Trident, the school’s orthodontic alumni newsletter, it was incorrectly noted as a donation. He was teased by several of his classmates for having given to the dental school. “Of course, I explained the situation and laughed it off. But it got me thinking about all the wonderful things the school had brought into my life.”
[pullquote]Ron’s enthusiasm was contagious. Since that reunion, some of the school’s most ardent donors have been members of the Class of ’66.[/pullquote]
Looking back, the most important of these was his relationship with one of his instructors: Dr. Arthur Dugoni ’48. “Dean Dugoni was a part-time instructor teaching an undergraduate orthodontics course. One day he came over to me and asked, ‘What are you going to do when you graduate?’ I had already lined up a spot in a practice in Palo Alto, California, and had planned on being a crown-and-bridge man. ‘You’ll be successful there,’ he said, ‘But, I hope you’ll consider orthodontics.’ When I discussed his recommendation with Margaret, she responded, ‘Crown and bridge? No! He’s right. Ortho.’ I’ve later claimed that the two of them were in collusion.”
This wasn’t the case, but it turned out to be the right choice for Ron. “I love my career. I am driven by it.”
Ron’s passion for his profession rubbed off on two of their three children. Dr. William Redmond graduated from the dental school in 1993, as did Bill’s wife, Dr. Erini Papandreas Redmond ’93, who practices next door to her husband’s orthodontic clinic in San Clemente, California. Ron and Margaret’s second son, Dr. John Redmond, also graduated from Pacific in 1997.
In 1986, right before his 20-year class reunion, Dr. Christopher Palma ’66, one of Ron’s closest friends in dental school, passed away from a brain tumor. “He wanted to go to the reunion, but he didn’t make it,” Ron says. “As a way to honor him, I decided to match any donations made to the school by our class.”
By then, Dugoni was the dean of the dental school. As the Redmonds’ involvement grew, so did their friendship, respect and appreciation of him. “Art Dugoni has the ability to see talent in others, and many times, they don’t see it in themselves,” Ron explains. “He challenged me and got me involved in the school on many levels.”
Ron’s enthusiasm was contagious. Since that reunion, some of the school’s most ardent donors have been members of the Class of 1966. “Like me, they were inspired by Art’s vision of what the school could be, what it could do and how it can inspire. Along the way, we also became doctors.”
In 1995, when he was invited to join the school’s foundation board by then-president, Dr. Ken Fat, Ron jumped in with both feet. In 2000, when it was time for the public kick-off of the school’s most ambitious campaign to date, Commitment to Excellence, Ron, who was the campaign’s committee chair, led by example with an initial gift of $1 million. “It was meant to have shock value,” he explains. “Sure you can start a campaign with a major gift of, say, $25,000, but a million dollars changes the mood in the room. The number was supposed to be a catalyst, and it was. It worked.”
As the campaign’s chair, Ron knocked on numerous doors. Many of his solicitations were made in conjunction with then-Dean Dugoni. “When you take a long car ride with someone, you get to know him pretty well. Art’s knowledge of our profession and of our community runs deep, and is invaluable. He’s also one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. His own life story, as the son of immigrants, is an inspiration to us all.”
Ron learned something else, too. “There is no 30-second elevator speech, because each of us has a specific passion. Art taught me to listen to the needs of those who we solicited.” Ron took this advice to heart, as did the foundation board and the development staff. The campaign exceeded its $50 million goal, climbing to a record $65.7 million. In celebration of the campaign’s conclusion, the Redmonds gifted the school’s orthodontic department an additional $500,000.
Ron’s biggest joy came not from the success of the campaign, but in seeing his mentor honored in the best way possible. “One of the greatest joys of my life was when the school was renamed the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.”
[pullquote]Margaret has the ability to see the big picture. She is the visionary.[/pullquote]
As one of the four co-chairs of the Building Our Future, Embracing Our Legacy capital effort, Ron is once again leading by example with a $5 million pledge. “Margaret and I are very proud that the orthodontic floor within the new facility will be named in memory of her parents, John W. and Donna Ruth Fyke.”
He adds, “We have many generous and grateful graduates, and we know they’ll come through for the school. You have a diploma on your wall, but depending on your participation, that will become less valuable or more valuable. They realize an institution is not just a box, but it contains a group of talented people. Many of the giants in our lives are the educators we were blessed to encounter at the Dugoni School of Dentistry. Giving generously to your school is the best way to honor those very special people who inspired you and who will inspire countless others.”
Needless to say, the Redmonds were thrilled when the school also changed the name of its foundation. “It made sense to rename it the Pacific Dugoni Foundation,” Ron explains. “When you combine those three words, you’ve pretty much got our mission.”
In their latest gesture of support for the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, Dr. Ron Redmond ’66 and wife Margaret recently pledged a $5 million gift to support the purchase and renovation of the school’s new campus at 155 Fifth Street in San Francisco.
The momentous gift was commemorated at a recent signing ceremony hosted by University of the Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck, Dean Patrick J. Ferrillo, Jr. and other members of the school’s administration.
“The generosity of Ron and Margaret will certainly make a tremendous impact on the next generation of Pacific Dugoni,” said Dean Ferrillo. “This is such an exciting gift that will support the creation of world-class new facilities to benefit our students, patients, faculty, staff, alumni and others. We thank them for their long-standing generosity to the school and commitment to philanthropy in so many forms.”
Josie Brown is the author of eight novels, including Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, soon to be a dramatic series on NBC-TV, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.