Profiles in Giving
Osher Scholarships embody couple's devotion-to the School of Dental Medicine, and to each other
Dorothy Suzi Osher, the daughter of French-Canadian immigrants who faced substantial hardships weathering the Depression in Biddeford, Maine, was raised to value education and hard work. "My first job was playing the piano at a local music store when I was just 10," she recalls, "and at 15, I was working for the government Census Bureau." After high school, she became a bookkeeper for Dr. Alfred Osher, DG62, a Biddeford oral surgeon. Several years later, at his request, she completed a course in anesthesiology at Boston City Hospital and began assisting in procedures. "At the time," she notes, "Al was the only board-certified oral surgeon in Maine, so 70-hour work weeks were not unusual."
In 1962, Dr. Osher completed the Tufts program in orthodontics, becoming the first board-certified orthodontist in the state. He began teaching at Tufts, traveling to Boston every Tuesday, even in the worst winter weather. After their marriage, Mrs. Osher found time to pursue her own passionate interest in business and fashion, opening a specialty clothing store in Biddeford, a pursuit she calls "my real career." However, even as she managed her own successful venture, she stayed involved in her husband's growing practice. "We were one of those rare couples who enjoyed working together," she relates.
About her gift
"When I make a gift, I always follow it," says the philanthropist, who established the Dr. Alfred Osher, DG62, and Suzi Osher Scholarship at TUSDM to honor her late husband, a long-time faculty member at the school. "And as I've gotten to know the dedicated students who benefit from our funds, I couldn't be happier."
Mrs. Osher is seated in a graciously appointed, former carriage house on a quiet street in Portland, Maine, a building once intended to house Dr. Osher's orthodontics practice. When he passed away in 1999, Mrs. Osher kept her promise to complete the building's meticulous renovation. Today, she uses it as her own office, where she skillfully oversees her business interests and philanthropic investments in education and health care.
Mrs. Osher says the scholarships at Tufts are "another promise I made to Al that I've been delighted to be able to keep." Since their establishment in 2006, the Osher Scholarships have supported more than 34 students from across the globe, many of whom are the first college graduates in their families. "That's exactly what Al would have wanted, and of course, it fits with my own values as well," notes Osher. "It's been a wonderful way to support promising young people and an institution that has meant so much to both of us."