Nine pharmacists, three generations, and counting


How is it that entire clans can get hooked on the profession of pharmacy? This time, we read about a family in North Carolina that was bitten by the bug.

What is it about the profession of pharmacy that captures the imaginations of entire families? First we heard from Pete Kreckel and his clan of busy pharmacists. Next came Irwin Woldman’s “Pharmacists by the dozen.” Then Fred Schenker wrote in about big-city pharmacy practice. After that, Bill Prather reminisced about “Pharmacy in Blue Ridge.” Now Hal Reaves Jr. accounts for a passel of pharmacists in North Carolina. As he says, “The beat goes on.”

Having read the article “Pharmacists by the dozen” [Irwin Woldman, July 9, 2014; linked to Drug Topics’ November 29 Special Report], I decided, being a third-generation pharmacist, that there is a story to tell about our pharmacy family.

While there aren’t quite a dozen of us, there is surely a long-running legacy in our family of pharmacists.

It started with Grandfather Len

My grandfather, Leonard (Len) E. Reaves [1], is the person who single-handedly projected our family into a profession that has grown to be one of the most respected callings in healthcare today. After two years of study, Grandfather Len graduated in 1893 in the first class of the school of pharmacy at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C., just down the road from Chapel Hill. That same year the school of pharmacy at UNC, Chapel Hill was founded. All the other family members that I will mention attended and graduated from UNC School of Pharmacy.

Grandfather Len began his career in Waxhaw, N.C., working there for 12 years before purchasing a store in Raeford, N.C.

His oldest son, Edwin Leroy (Roy) [2], earned a PhG (Graduate in Pharmacy) in 1920 from UNC.

Roy had 2 sons: Edwin Jr., who was a pharmaceuticals rep for part of his sales career, and Charles [3], who received his BS Pharm from UNC in 1952.

Roy Sr. owned Reaves Pharmacy in Asheboro, N.C. for a few years, and then, while his son Charles was in pharmacy school, he died suddenly from a heart attack.

My father, Hallie [4], Roy’s youngest brother, was working for him at the time and was able to operate the pharmacy until Charles could finish pharmacy school and come home to run the family business. Dad eventually opened his own pharmacy in Asheboro, which he operated as Reaves Walgreen Agency for 22 years (more on that later).

Third generation

I am Hallie C. Reaves Jr. [5], a THIRD-generation pharmacist, along with several of my cousins. I began my studies at UNC School of Pharmacy in September 1959.

Back then the school was still located in the original Howell Hall. Shortly after my first semester began, the school was moved to its new quarters in Beard Hall, all the way across campus and closer to the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Nursing. It remains there today as the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

My class was the last four-year pharmacy class at UNC, graduating in 1963 with a BS Pharm. Interestingly, my father was in the first four-year program.



When I arrived at UNC two of my cousins were already enrolled in the school of pharmacy.

Their father was Leonard E. Reaves Jr. [6], Grandfather Len’s son No. 2, who graduated in 1930 with a PhG. He operated grandfather Len’s pharmacy in Raeford for a while, after his father died, and eventually went on to own two pharmacies (both Rexall) in Fayetteville, N.C. 

L.E. Jr. produced three pharmacists: Cousin Dorothy [7], BS Pharm 1961 (she married a UNC pharmacy graduate, class of 1956, Harold Ball, who became a pharmaceutical representative for Eli Lilly until he retired), Cousin Tommy [8], BS Pharm 1962, and Cousin Robert [9], BS Pharm 1971.



Joint venture

By the time I graduated in 1963, my father had sold his store. In May of 1964, after working in area pharmacies, he and I embarked on a venture together and opened Medical Center Pharmacy in Pinehurst, N.C. We operated this small apothecary together for most of my career. 

Dad retired (for the second time) in 1993 at age 80 and passed away in 1999.

I sold the pharmacy in 2003 to Eckerd Drug Stores, worked for them for three years, and retired in 2006. I still keep my license current and try to stay active, working as a relief pharmacist whenever there is a need in my county and surrounding areas.

The oldest of my younger sisters married a pharmacist, Lewis Cooper Jr., who worked in our store for a few years. Eventually he opened his own store in his home town, several miles away but in the same county.

Grand total

So, by my count, my grandfather produced nine pharmacists (including himself) and one physician (the oldest son of Leonard Jr.), and there were two pharmacists who married into the family. 

Sadly, all the first and second generations have passed away. Only one of the cousins in our third generation, Cousin Robert, has passed on.

Oddly, none of the children produced by our generation has pursued pharmacy as a career, but the fourth generation is beginning to gather momentum. My second oldest granddaughter, by my eldest daughter, is waiting to hear from UNC about her acceptance on a track for pharmacy school. And my only grandson, a high school junior, is making some pharmacy noises, too. Who knows where it may go from here?

The beat goes on.

Hal C. Reaves Jr.lives in Seven Lakes, N.C. Contact him

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