Focus on Practice Partner: Woody Pack of Pack Pharmacy
Forrest "Woody" Pack Sr. was a 16-year-old farm boy, and
valedictorian of Hamlin High School in Hamlin, West Virginia, when
he made a decision wise beyond his years: He took the savings
he’d made from a summer job, handing out cereal samples door
to door, and headed to Cincinnati to earn a college degree.
Over time, this very young man’s insight, determination
and work ethic led to three generations of pharmacists, and a
large, extended family of Cincinnati Bearcats.
Pack, now 95, who is still a practicing pharmacist and
patriarch of Pack Pharmacy in O’Bryonville, says that in 1939
he didn’t deliberate much on a field of study when he chose
to enroll in what was then called the Cincinnati College of
Pharmacy. (From 1850 to 1949 the college was independently
operated. It became a part of UC in September 1954 and was named
the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy in 2007.)
"It was the only place that I could afford to go to school. I
paid my tuition by the week, exactly five dollars a week,”
which he earned by interning at local pharmacies working for 25
cents an hour, he recalls.
However, two years into his studies, and a month after the
bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Pack received his draft
notice from the U.S. Army. He served honorably until 1946 and then
returned to Cincinnati to complete his remaining two years of
pharmacy training. He married Mary June Schwartz in 1947 and
graduated from pharmacy school in 1948.
"Back then every student was expected to open his own
pharmacy after graduation because the goal was not only to become a
pharmacist but to be one at your own pharmacy,” says Pack,
who with his new bride purchased property at 2114 Madison Rd. and
opened Pack Pharmacy. The couple also started a family, of
Bearcats¬—Amelia (A&S ’80), Forrest (Pharm
’75), and John (A&S ’70, Pharm’ 77)—and
a legacy built on long hours and hard work.
"He practically lives at the pharmacy,” says Amelia,
who became Pack Pharmacy’s business manager. He arrives at 7
a.m. every morning and stays well after 8 p.m. "It was only a few
years ago that we started closing on Christmas Day!” she says
with a laugh.
Of course, when you have been in business for 68 years a lot
of things change. The building itself underwent a complete
renovation in the 1970s, which is the retail site one sees today.
But it’s the profession, Pack says, that is unrecognizable
from when he started: The notebook of Ohio pharmacy laws that once
fit in his pocket is now the size of an encyclopedia. Back in the
day, so to speak, he says prescription bottles didn’t have
the ingredients listed on them, just the doctor’s name and
the instructions and there were no pervasive addiction problems
like there are today.
The biggest change he says he sees is in business operations:
"We very seldom talk to the doctors anymore and the insurance
companies have upended the profession, taking much of the control
of the practice of medicine out of the hands of doctors,
pharmacists, and hospitals and causing a massive increase in the
cost of medical care,” he laments.
But, owning an independent pharmacy, he says, has afforded
him a nice life, and he’s maintained a steady clientele by
going above and beyond for his customers.
"We really get to know the people who come here. I’m a
big Reds fan and I had a guy the other day who said, ‘Why
should I go somewhere that the pharmacist doesn’t know a
thing about baseball?’”
Pack is also a big Bearcats fan. Not only did all three of
his children graduate from UC, but all five of his granddaughters
did as well: Julie Cromwell (CEAS ’01), Jean Brugger, PharmD
(Pharm ’03), Karen Schmitt (CAHS ’04), Katie Dobbs
(DAAP ’04), and Susan Morgan (DAAP ’08).
"My grandpa has the strongest work ethic of any individual I
have ever met,” says Cromwell, citing the numerous awards and
honors he’s accumulated over the years: Founding member of
the former Ohio Independent Pharmacists Association in 1988;
president of the Ohio State Pharmaceutical Association, now called
Ohio Pharmacist Association (OPA), in 1985; recipient of the
OPA’s Keys Award in 1981; recipient of the National
Association of Retail Druggist (NARD), now called the National
Community Pharmacists Association ( NCPA), Pharmacy Leadership
Award in 1985; recipient of the OSPA Beal Award in 1987; and most
personally significant to him, the NARD John Dargavel Medal in
Not surprisingly, in 1998 the college bestowed Pack with
Arthur C. Glasser Distinguished Alumni Award.
"He is passionate about his career and helping the
community,” Cromwell adds. "He truly gets to know his
customers and their families and cares for them with empathy and
Employees at Pack Pharmacy are also family and extended
family. In addition to Amelia, his late daughter-in-law MaryAnn
(Pharm, ’77), and both sons have worked there, while his son
John still does part-time and granddaughter Jean Brugger works
there full-time. Although not related, Michelle Becker, (Pharm
’87) has worked there since she was in high school and John
Marx, (Pharm, ’62) is a part-time pharmacist. Pack Pharmacy
has also hosted scores of interns and pharmacists since its
"You can’t do it all by yourself,” says the
patriarch. "It takes dedication by both employees and family to
care for and build trust in your patients. It has to be a family
and friendship commitment.”
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