Some families run to redheads. Some families witness a series of multiple births over a couple of generations. But a flock of pharmacists? Would that be nature, nurture, or morphic resonance?
Drug Topics reader Irwin Woldman took one look at Pete Kreckel’s “All in the family: Two generations in pharmacy,” the article that launched our “Pathways through Pharmacy” series, and knew he had to drop us a line. His extended family may hold some kind of record for the sheer number of relatives who ended up in pharmacy. If you know of another family with similar stats, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
When I read “All in the family: Two generations in pharmacy,” I thought to myself, you haven’t seen anything till you get a load of our gang. The profession of pharmacy was almost a contractable disease with us. And every single one of us graduated from University of Buffalo, in Buffalo, New York (now SUNYAB).
Let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
My name is Irwin Woldman, licensed pharmacist in California. I started working in my father's drugstore when I was 11 years old. Since all other eligible persons were either in school, in the armed forces, or working for defense companies (this was wartime), I was "drafted" to work for Dad.
After graduation from pharmacy school in 1955 and passing New York’s and other state board exams, I was licensed in New York, D.C., Florida, and California. I worked for my father until I entered the Army. Eventually I was stationed in Hawaii, where I worked part-time, after duty hours, in two different pharmacies on Oahu.
After my two years of service, I managed one of my dad's stores until I relocated to California in 1960. I worked for several employers until I purchased my own 7,000-square-foot drugstore in 1969.
Thirteen years later, I sold that store, and while still working part-time for a selection of independent pharmacies, I studied to become a real estate broker.
Now I am semiretired, but I still pitch in occasionally for friends, and I keep my California license current.
My father, Joseph H. Woldman, graduated from U.B. with a two-year degree in 1928.
In 1932, McKesson approached Dad and asked him to buy a defaulted pharmacy. Dad told them that he would take over the store for one year and pay only for what he purchased during that period. At the end of the year, he said, he would decide whether to buy the store and pay McKesson for the initial inventory.
Dad was from a humble family with no big money. He was supporting a wife and parents, and son No. 1 was on the way. The McKesson deal is how he purchased his first store and got to be an owner.
Over the next several years, he purchased two other neighborhood stores, with a partner in each. He also opened a new store about seven blocks from his original store, and he bought another existing one, located on Main Street in Buffalo. In later years, he opened new shopping center stores in three suburbs, each with a different partner.
The original store was firebombed and closed during race riots in that part of Buffalo.
Dad was one of the founding members of Leader Drugs, a buying group for drugstore independents in the Greater Buffalo area. He eventually sold off his stores and retired.
My brother Sherman Woldman graduated in 1953 and was licensed that year. He immediately entered U.B. Medical School and finished there in 1957.
During the summers, holidays, and occasionally weekends while attending medical school, he worked in Dad’s stores as a pharmacist. He is now retired from his career as a pediatrician.
My brother Myron Woldman graduated from U.B. in 1960. He managed one of Dad’s shopping-center stores until his untimely death in a car accident. He was very active in U.B. Pharmacy alumni activities. After his death, the school dedicated a room in the new north campus pharmacy school in his name.
My uncle Nathan Weinstein graduated from U.B. in 1930. After he married, he relocated to Rochester, N.Y., and opened Dox Drugs with another uncle, Sol Shapiro. They had two stores; each took one to own and operate.
Sol Shapiro was an uncle by marriage. He graduated from U.B. in 1930. He owned drugstores in Rochester, N.Y., with Uncle Nate Weinstein (see above). He also had a second store in Rochester on his own.
My uncle Pierce Weinstein immediately entered U.B. Medical School after graduating from U.B. As a student in pharmacy school and then as a med student, he continued to work for pharmacies in the Buffalo area, before going on to a career as an anesthesiologist in Florida. He is now retired.
Lou Levinson was another uncle by marriage. He graduated from U.B. in 1930. After his divorce, he moved to California. In the 1960s, he was working for Savon Drugs. After that, we lost track of him.
Sanford Gaffe, a first cousin, graduated from U.B. in 1966. He was lIcensed first in New York but relocated to Florida and got licensed there. He owned Sandy’s Discount Drugs in Pompano Beach for 24 years. Now he works for Walgreens in South Florida.
Joe Groden, a first cousin by marriage, graduated from U.B. in 1954. He worked for Dox Drugs in Rochester. We lost track of him after his divorce.
Len Gold, another first cousin by marriage, worked as a pharmacist at Monroe Community Hospital in Rochester. He is now retired.
There were even more pharmacists related to some of the in-laws and other indirect family connections. Give you one guess what we talked about at family get-togethers.
What a clan!
Irwin Woldman still works part-time as a pharmacist. He lives in Studio City, California. Contact him at email@example.com.