photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Kenneth Zimmerman | profile | all galleries >> In Box >> inbox_places >> gillespies_100_years tree view | thumbnails | slideshow
ST. JOSEPH -- On Monday, Gillespie's Pharmacy will celebrate
100 years of service in St. Joseph thanks to Amy and
Kelly Gillespie, the third generation of the family in
the drug store business.
It started in 1905 when their grandfather, Frank T. Gillespie,
bought what had been the Howard & Pearl Drug Store at
220 State St. in downtown St. Joseph.
Four of Frank and Helen Gillespie's six children became
pharmacists. Collins, Robert and William Gillespie continued to
operate the original store until 1986, when they sold it to Ronald Beck,
who closed it in 1992.
The three brothers also operated as many as
four additional drug stores in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph,
which they eventually sold, while keeping the downtown store.
Richard Gillespie opened his own pharmacy at
2020 Washington Avenue in 1960. Amy Gillespie-Zimmerman, Richard's daughter,
who co-owns the store with her sister, Kelly Gillespie-Karsten,
said they bought it from their father when he retired in 1991.
He died Feb. 12. "It's so sad he didn't make
it to see this (centennial celebration)," she said.
The open house will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday at the pharmacy.
Gillespie-Zimmerman said punch, coffee and cookies will be served
and items, such as calendars and medicine spoons, will be given away.
The St. Joseph City Commission will present the Gillespies with an
award and gift Monday after its meeting, she said. Nearly all of
her brothers and sisters will be there.
At one time, all six of Frank T. Gillespie's children worked at
the downtown store,
according to William Gillespie, the only surviving child.
At 81, he still works three days a week at his nieces' pharmacy.
"I really like working," he said. "I read a lot but I never had a lot of hobbies.
I've told people that when I leave this store, I'll be horizontal."
He said he just completed 30 hours of continuing education
courses so he can have
his pharmaceutical license renewed for another two years.
"You have to keep up-to-date nowadays," he said.
"I can't imagine getting
out of school and not keeping up-to-date. Things come out so fast and furious these days."
He said some of his earliest memories are of him helping his dad at the
downtown pharmacy. He said even as a young child,
he was able to unpack boxes
and put away orders. When he got into high school in the
early '40s, he said he worked almost full-time in the soda fountain room.
He said he served in an Army supply and support unit in Europe in World War II
before returning to St. Joseph to continue working at the pharmacy.
"I got out of the service on Dec. 23, 1945, got home the day before Christmas,
and went to work that day," he said.
He got his pharmacy license in 1950 and worked at the downtown
location until it closed in 1992. He said he then worked a couple
of years at pharmacies in New Buffalo and Three Oaks until he started
working at his brother's store on Washington Avenue.
Besides being a pharmacist, William Gillespie served on the
St. Joseph City Commission from 1974-1993 and was mayor from 1990-1993.
He wasn't the only Gillespie to give back to the community.
He said his brother, Collins Gillespie, was on the St. Joseph Board of Education
and another brother, Robert Gillespie, spent time as president of the
American Pharmaceutical Association and as president of the Michigan
Pharmacists' Association.
Another brother, Tom Gillespie, was the St. Joseph police chief
from 1947-1977, William Gillespie said.
The sixth child was Ruth Grootendorst.
"That was one of my dad's things -- you should always give
back to the community, and I guess we all believed him," he said.
Amy Gillespie said her "Uncle Bill" is wonderful to work with.
"He is truly incredible," she said. "He knows everyone in town. He is the smartest man I know."
For the first 10 years after Frank T. Gillespie bought the pharmacy,
it was called Gillespie and Reiber Drug Store until Frank bought out his partner, John Reiber.
William Gillespie said that the soda fountain room was a very
popular meeting place during the early years. It was closed in 1957 in order
to expand the camera and pharmaceutical departments.
He said none of his four children went into the pharmacy business.
He said he always encouraged them to do what they wanted to do.
100_store.jpg 100_sign.jpg City Hall all.jpg
both.jpg sign.jpg memorial_at_ricks
< memorial_at_ricks >
< bill_nancy_wedding >