Growing up on the Pharm...

Grampa and Grama on his 90th birthday!
My Grandfather (who would be turning 96 this year) was a pharmacist. He was a conscientious objector during World War II and served out his duty by being a pharmacist at Ft. Lewis in Washington State. He met and married a pharmacist's daughter in college, bought out her father's pharmacy and ran it as his own. He worked long hours and was thoroughly committed to taking care of the neighborhood's needs.

Working at the pharmacy was a kind of rite of passage. My dad and uncle worked there, although then they had a soda fountain with the old time stools and ice cream bar. By the time I started working there, it was just a run of the mill neighborhood pharmacy. People had charge accounts, I learned to navigate by doing deliveries, and could have a free soda and candy bar during my break.

I started working at the pharmacy about my freshman year in high school. It was a great place to spend time with Grampa as well as earn some extra money. The best part is that he worked around my sports schedules and choir events. Really, it was about work experience and learning work ethic.

Once when I was going to do the deliveries (which he meticulously had put in order so they were most efficient), I expressed my concern that it was snowing and I didn't have much experience driving in the snow (did I mention he had a large old Ford truck with no power steering, brakes, etc. It was a workout driving the truck!). He told me that I would be fine, just turn into the slide if it was a problem, and out the door I went...armed with this ever so helpful information!

My Grandfather was a well revered pillar of his community...he was on various church committees, he felt that taking care of the neighborhood was part of his mission. There was a customer (who I lovingly called "Crazy Mike") whose check from the government was actually sent in care of my Grandfather, a man unrelated to Mike. Grampa would dole out money for him during the month so he wouldn't spend it all at once. He came in for his daily Baby Ruth candy and Coke and, if he was getting too out of hand, Grampa would make sure that he got admitted, medicated, cleaned up and fed. It was a pretty powerful thing to experience.

If someone needed medicine, he made sure they got it, whether or not they could afford it. Customers had his home number and it wasn't uncommon for him to go into the store and get something over the weekend. His work ethic and heart for people were amazing.

Grampa quit working when he was nearing 80. He wasn't able to do the long hours and eventually sold the pharmacy, which is now a bead store. I drive by there occasionally and have flashbacks of my youth and feel sad that my own children didn't get the same opportunity that I did to work side by side with such a great man.

Grampa died in his prime two and one-half years ago. He had just returned from the doctor with a clean bill of health and, we believe, had a massive stroke or heart attack in his own living room. One minute he was watching the news and the next minute gone, the way he would have wanted it to be.

He had a special relationship with my youngest son, who he called "my boy," which always warmed my heart. He was a man who saw people's insides and wasn't limited by their outward appearance. He treated Crazy Mike with respect for many years...I often wondered what happened to him, although I wouldn't be surprised if my Grandfather made arrangements for him when he closed the pharmacy, just like he came to care for my son with my Grandmother during those early years.

I learned a lot from my ethic, the power of a positive opinion, the power of love and high expectations, taking care of your fellow man, and how sometimes you just don't know your impact on the world. His impact was pretty amazing...the world lost an impressive force when he died. I can only hope that in my lifetime, I have half the impact that he did. If so, I can leave this life a happy and proud woman!


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. Thank you for sharing it. I remember the small town pharmacy and pharmacist and how he was revered much like your grandfather. What an impact he had!

  2. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful man with us. He sounds like he deserved every ounce of love you gave him and then some. "The power of a positive opinion" is a lesson many need--good reminder!

  3. I am so happy I stumbled upon your post. It is SUCH a beautiful tribute to your Grandpa, whom I now feel so well acquainted with. He sounds like a truly amazing man. Thank you for introducing him to the rest of the world. We are in need of more hardworking, kindhearted men (and women) like your Grandpa. :)

  4. Your grandfather sounds like such a good, good man. I always love hearing the stories of people who live out their faith in real and concrete ways in their families and community. I love, too, the details you included, e.g. the Baby Ruth and Coke, that make people seem so much more real.


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