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50 Years of Passion for NDSU
The Heritage Award recognizes alumni who have provided outstanding volunteer service for the benefit of NDSU.
Story by Nicole Thom-Arens | September 16, 2021
Southeast of Bloomington, Minnesota, nestled in a wooded area — classically Minnesotan — sat the home of Barb (Crahan) ’70 and Mike ’69 Jones. It was a home they built together on the land they’ve owned since 1979. They immediately radiate a comfort, candor, and fun-loving humor nurtured for more than 50 years. While they are both pharmacy graduates from NDSU, they didn’t meet until Barb’s internship at Keller Drug, part of the Snyder Drug company, on Bloomington Avenue and Lake Street.
“Snyder Drug, at that time, filled all of its internships with NDSU grads because they knew we worked hard and were reliable,” Barb recalled. “I waited and waited until one store was left to make my commitment to come down to Minnesota. Mike was a pharmacist there. I walked in and met him, and a year later we were married!”
Early in their relationship, Barb would escape down to the lower level of Keller Drug, where the merchandise was delivered and the women’s restroom was located, to work on a project, a sweater for Mike, knitted in green and yellow — Bison colors, of course.
“Which I still have,” Mike said.
“He wears it at Christmas — it has holes in it!” Barb added, and they both laughed.
Mike was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in Bemidji, Minnesota, where he first attended college and majored in business and chemistry. He, along with three others, transferred to NDSU’s pharmacy school. Growing up, Mike remembers how easy it was to visit with the pharmacists at the independent pharmacies in Bemidji.
“You could talk to them easily and find out more about pharmacy,” Mike said. “Having access to the small pharmacies — the local drug stores — helped me decide.”
Barb, a native Fargonian — born and raised — wanted a career but didn’t want to go the traditional route. She was one of 10 women in the pharmacy program of about 110 at the time.
“We were the early trendsetters in a mostly male profession,” Barb said. “I knew that I would come out with a strong education with an ability to have a job — a good profession, a lifelong profession. I knew pharmacy would be able to provide for me. I wasn’t thinking I’d get married or anything; I just wanted to have a career, and I felt a career in pharmacy was a really strong avenue for me to pursue.”
Barb lived at home and joined Kappa Delta sorority, and she’s kept her strong affinity to NDSU all these years.
“She hasn’t missed one Homecoming since we graduated,” Mike said. “I missed one, but she’s forgiven me. Even during COVID, we tuned into Bison Bidders Bowl virtually.”
"If you're able to give back and see how other people are giving back, you just get inspired by their stories."
That passion for their alma mater is part of the reason Barb and Mike are being celebrated as the 2021 Heritage Award recipients at Evening of Distinction. The award recognizes alumni who have provided outstanding volunteer service for the benefit of North Dakota State University. Barb has served as an NDSU Foundation Trustee since 1995, and she and Mike serve as In Our Hands campaign ambassadors.
“Meeting alumni with the same passion for NDSU at different events has been the most enjoyable and heartwarming — you’re like a family,” Barb said.
The couple’s connection to NDSU has remained strong through the Twin Cities alumni group, hearing from NDSU students through the telemarketing program, and serving on the Dean’s advisory committee for the College of Health Professions.
“We have three scholarships,” Barb said. “We looked at our passions: we both love music, pharmacy was a no-brainer, and we both love golf, so we have scholarships for women’s and men’s golf, the arts, and pharmacy. Golf came first. I think that’s kind of an unsung area — you’re a team but you’re an individual. It builds character, honesty, integrity.”
“It’s a sport where you’ll call a penalty on yourself,” Mike added.
Both Barb and Mike worked throughout college, and they understand students are facing different circumstances today with increased costs.
“When I was in school, I worked at the Elks Club as a bartender,” Mike said. “It’s nice to give to students so they don’t have to worry about how to get the money to get through school.”
“I worked at the metabolism lab as a student, so it just helps. It’s so competitive for students right now and it’s so expensive,” Barb added.
Through their volunteering, they’ve also met fellow alumni who were giving back, and that was inspiring.
“The people that we got to know were all philanthropic — they were generous and were giving, too,” Mike said.
“If you’re able to give back and you see how other people are giving back, you just get inspired by their stories,” Barb said.
While working as pharmacists, the Joneses also launched their own business. Mike, led by his entrepreneurial spirit, started developing products customers were asking for but were not available on the market. The first product he developed was cocoa butter bars. They slowly grew the company, Gallipot, and were eventually manufacturing a number of products. In 2010, a Dutch company, Fagron, purchased Gallipot, which now operates under the Fagron name.
“We had a good division,” Barb said. “Mike was the mad scientist and did the regulatory issues and worked with the government and FDA. He had a calm, cool head about him. He was in charge of the manufacturing and production, and I was in charge of the purchasing, receiving, accounting, HR, and front office. It worked out really well because it balanced our strengths.”
In 1990, Barb became president of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association — she was only the second woman president in the group’s more than 100- year history.
As they reflected on their successes, Mike made a clear connection back to NDSU.
“A lot of those skills, like compounding, we learned from NDSU, so it makes sense to give back what we received.”
A love of NDSU was palpable in Barb and Mike as they reminisced about meeting people on vacations with connections to NDSU, running into strangers in the Twin Cities who knew former classmates, meeting young people from Minnesota who attend NDSU today, and recruiting their Arizona neighbors as Bison fans even though they’re not alumni. The Joneses epitomize that something special about Bison Nation we often talk about as alumni and friends of the University.