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Local pharmacist looks back at 50 years

Posted: August 2, 2014 - 1:57pm
ERIC WHITE STAFF PHOTO  Duane Goode, recognized for 50 years of service as a pharmacist, has stayed true to his roots in central Arkansas.
ERIC WHITE STAFF PHOTO Duane Goode, recognized for 50 years of service as a pharmacist, has stayed true to his roots in central Arkansas.

Duane Goode never dreamed of life as a revered pharmacist during his hardscrabble existence on the family’s farm near Holland in Faulkner County.

But the fates brought notoriety and wealth to his doorstep over the years, culminating with the bestowal by the State Board of Pharmacy of an award in recognition of 50 years of faithful service as a pharmacist in Arkansas.

“It’s a long way from seemingly endless days chopping cotton and doing menial jobs,” he mused the other day while reliving life growing up in a two-room log cabin. The human condition of life in the Depression was almost unyielding and backbreaking, he intimated.

But purposeful as he always has been, Goode persevered, taking on Greenbrier schools, Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas, special courses at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and finally the state school of pharmacy.

It was a trek of some dimension, spurred on by goals he had established years before — to be a pharmacist.

During the time of his educational labors he found a bride who was to be his life-long wife, confidant and manager. “I’d never have done it without her,” he remarked with passion.

His wife, Elaine, was to show her mettle by her own educational prowess, becoming a stalwart figure on the board of trustees of the University of Central Arkansas, serving with distinction for several years until illness detoured her.

The other day, Goode, always the genial host, welcomed a visitor into his stately “Eagle Wing” home situated in the middle of an 80-acre property, along Lakeview Acres Road near Lake Beaverfork, and talked voluminously about his award and other things.

Goode may be stern of visage, but he is warm and personable, sensitive to the needs of others. A wry smile is all you get from Goode, but humor lurks behind his outward personality. Actually he is delightfully approachable, and perhaps his countrified upbringing accounts for his warmth.

He remembers entering the David Baker drug store in downtown Conway during his school days and asking the proprietor for a job. He was a fledgling student in pharmacy school.

“Can you read a prescription?” Baker asked.

“Of course,” the rookie replied.

Baker gave him a prescription to read and then pronounced that Goode would do. “Can you come in tomorrow? ”

That began the arduous pursuit of working as a pharmacist. In fact, Goode worked throughout the years of his study, once toiling in the downtown icehouse, now the property of Toad Suck Daze. He was never embarrassed by the menial nature of his various jobs. And he recalls saving as much money as he possibly could.

His time at Baker Drug was fruitful as he learned essentials of the business. He was a quick learner and demonstrated potential as a promising pharmacist.

“After a year of employment, Baker turned me loose and I worked there by myself. I filled 175 prescriptions one day. I told my fellow students abut it and they couldn’t believe it.”

After graduating from pharmacy school and completing a year’s residency, he became an entrepreneur in a new Baker drug at the corner of Harkrider and Oak streets in a shopping center.

“Baker knew I had a little money saved and approached me one day with a proposition to go into business together.”

Goode might have been a country boy, but he knew what frugality was all about. He was taught well at his daddy’s knee. He joined Baker with the money he had saved, but quickly realized that he was doing all the work. For two years Goode worked 12 hours a day, every day, in a backbreaking schedule.

“Why not sell the store to me,” he inquired of his partner one day. Agreed, Baker said, pocketing $5,000 from Goode.

Shortly thereafter, Baker informed Goode that Greeson’s drug store was thinking of closing shop. He suggested that Goode investigate the possibility of buying Greeson’s. Goode jumped at the chance and landed a whopper — all the drugs, every prescription and other medicines. It gave Goode tremendous impetus for his new “Village Rexall” drug store.

Goode experienced success with his store, taking on nationally-known brand names to augment the pharmacy side. But when the character of the shopping center changed, and the flagship store Safeway moved out, he elected to move into a store on the west side of Harkrider off the corner and he called it “American” drugs. Again it was a propitious move, and Goode enjoyed favorable returns.

Today Goode has only a modest interest in a drug store in Greenbrier, and this one, too, is named American Drug as all his stores had been labeled. He is otherwise involved in his handsome spread where donkeys, sheep and critters graze under the watchful eye of daughter Leslie, who has been keenly involved in caring for animals — those that are hearty and those otherwise mistreated.

“Dad has always allowed me to have animals but only if I cared for them,” she said.

Her affection for animals gave her impetus to aid downtrodden critters by sending them, often by airfreight, to various places around the country and into good homes.

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