The lighter side of leadership: Dr. Marvin Dewar

This story originally appeared in the April issue of Shands Corporate Newsletter News&Notes.

For those who do not know, Marvin Dewar, M.D., J.D., is a cuddly bear so loyal and true.

Of course, most in the Shands HealthCare family and at the University of Florida know Dewar as the UF College of Medicine continuing medical education associate dean. He is also a faculty member in the family medicine residency program at Shands AGH and the Southwest 4th Avenue Family Medicine Clinic and Shands HealthCare Affiliations vice president. He was recently appointed as the UF Physicians chief medical officer.

But before all this, he was simply Pooh – Winnie the Pooh, that is.

“I loved being Pooh,” Dewar said. “This was real for those kids. You could see it in their faces. I made more kids happy as a character than I ever have in any way else.”

Dr. Marvin Dewar holds a photo that shows off his days as Winnie the Pooh

It all began when he was a 10th grader at Apopka High School. Walt Disney World had just opened in Kissimmee and it was looking for staff to play its characters at the theme park’s grand-opening parade. Disney sent flyers to all the area high schools and snatched up Dewar when he applied, not as Pooh though.

“I was in a monkey suit,” he said. “I just roamed and danced back and forth next to the crowd during the opening-day parade. It was a huge parade with high schools from throughout the area. There was a 76-piece trombone section alone that was part of a 1,076-member marching band!”

Certainly there was more to Disney than this monkey business, however. Shortly after the parade, Disney called Dewar back and asked him to come aboard in a more permanent role as Winnie the Pooh.

Dewar played the role for six years. It was his summer and holiday job when he came home from college at Stetson University in Deland. He even continued playing Pooh until half way through medical school at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

More importantly, his role as Pooh is partly responsible for his marriage to Bev Dewar. “That’s where my engagement ring came from,” said Bev Dewar, who has been married to Marvin for 30 years. “He earned the money to pay for it by working at Disney as Winnie the Pooh.”

Today, a photo of “Winnie the Pooh Dewar” hangs on Marvin Dewar’s Ayers Medical Plaza office wall. It is a
reminder of that bygone era when his best friends were named Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet. And all it took to make kids smile was to walk up to them in his furry outfit.

“I’m not joking when I say it – it’s one of the best jobs I ever had,” Marvin Dewar said.