About Eugene Applebaum

Eugene Applebaum was a beloved community leader, mentor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. A lifelong resident of Detroit, Applebaum was born in 1936, son to European immigrants Minnie and Joseph Applebaum. Instilled at a young age with the importance of hard work and responsibility, he started working at age 12 as the fountain and stock boy at the old Fox Drugs at Broadstreet and Elmhurst.

As a child, he attended Fresh Air Summer Camp on scholarship. Since his parents could not afford the tuition, a generous benefactor allowed Applebaum to attend for $3 per week, a fraction of the typical cost of $21. This experience had a profound impact on young Eugene, shaping his commitment to philanthropy and helping others.

Applebaum's leadership and entrepreneurial acumen advanced during his student experiences at Wayne State University. A proud graduate in 1960 with a bachelor of science in pharmacy – which the college has since evolved into the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree – Applebaum immediately went into the pharmacy business. He opened his first drug store, Civic Drugs, in Dearborn in 1963. In 1974, Applebaum brought together six existing drugstores, including Civic Drugs, to form Arbor Drugs.

As the Founder and CEO of Arbor Drugs Inc., he ultimately propelled it to be the nation's eighth-largest drug store chain, with 208 stores, generating $1 billion in annual sales, with 45 percent market share in metro Detroit. In 1998, after 35 years in business, Applebaum sold Arbor Drugs to CVS, and formed Arbor Investments Group (now Applebaum Ventures) to focus his efforts full time on philanthropy and family investments.

Applebaum dedication

Eugene Applebaum surrounded by his family at the dedication of the new Wayne State pharmacy and health sciences building at 259 Mack Ave. A tribute to Eugene Applebaum from Wayne State University's 150th Anniversary celebration in 2018.

Throughout his life, Applebaum had a passion for giving back and helping to lead the community that supported him. He served as the first chair of the Wayne State University Foundation, helping the university raise $1.1 billion. In 1998, he contributed what was, at the time, the largest individual gift in the history of Wayne State University. To honor his philanthropic work, Wayne State University renamed the pharmacy college as the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

As a leader and philanthropist, Applebaum wanted to ensure that future generations would receive the best education, good jobs, in a vibrant metropolitan Detroit community. He helped to strengthen many of Detroit's cultural arts organizations, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Michigan Opera Theater.

Enriching the Jewish community in and around his hometown was a consistent objective in Applebaum's life. In 1999, he and his wife Marcia, announced the largest capital gift in the history of Metro Detroit's Jewish Community, leading to the naming of the Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Jewish Community Campus in West Bloomfield, Michigan. One of his favorite places, the Fresh Air Society in Ortonville, Michigan, features Applebaum Village – returning the opportunity he received as a young boy.

As a leader in the health care business, Applebaum committed much of his philanthropy to research and education in that field. In 1999, Applebaum co-founded the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center for the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and in 2006, Beaumont Hospital opened the Marcia and Eugene Applebaum Surgical Learning Center, the first facility of its kind in the country. Nationally, the Applebaums' philanthropy has also benefitted the Mayo Clinic, and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Applebaum received community-wide recognition for his leadership, including the Fred M. Butzel Memorial Award for Distinguished Community Service, the Jewish community's highest honor, and the Max M. Fisher Outstanding Philanthropist Award.

Most of all, Eugene was devoted to his family and cherished being a private mentor and friend to countless future business, community, and young leaders.

To learn more about Eugene Applebaum, visit http://www.applebaumlegacy.org.