The Idle American

‘Old School’ Pharmacist ...

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Wayne West has been “old school” for decades, long before Mary’s lamb thought about following her to school.

He’s “old school” for many reasons. The son of a sharecropper who grew up near Midlothian, TX, he’s come a long way from cotton fields and livestock pens to head Best Value pharmacies.

He has been dispensing medications--personally compounded, in many instances--since doctors gave up prescribing leeches….

This may seem like the cadence to The Twelve Days of Christmas, but he’s a God-fearing, Bible-believing, Sunday school-teaching, community-leading, people-serving family man. He and Betty, his wife of 58 years, have four daughters. All are involved in the business, and one followed her daddy’s footsteps to become a registered pharmacist.

He was encouraged by longtime pharmacist A. G. Hilley who encouraged him through pharmacy school at the University of Texas. Then, the late Hilley continued his role as mentor, employing him and later paving the way for West to move into ownership. West’s longest stints have been in Mineral Wells, 26 years, and Burleson since 1988.

The group he heads has stores in 14 communities. Wherever he’s lived, he has found places to serve--in his church, community and civic initiatives, including Rotary International. West has been elected to school boards, and is an all-around “go-to” guy when wise counsel is needed….

It’s his pharmacy service--the “above and beyond kind”--that sets him apart, thus the “old school” moniker.

Consider these policies, the kind he has followed throughout life. The Wests have a listed home phone number, and when emergencies occur outside posted store hours, customers have “rousted him out.” Countless times he’s responded, “I’ll meet you at the drugstore.”

Though he has a delivery person, he’s often the deliverer himself, providing critical prescriptions and sometimes compounds he still prepares. He takes pride in overnight preparation of compounds that require a week or more at most stores….

His encouragement and genuine commitment to meet others’ needs are well known.

He is not one to “toot his own horn,” but some of his acts of kindness are shared by those who are befriended.

A while back, he delivered medication to a home-bound patient who faced the need for daily hypodermic injections. West illustrated exactly how it should be done. This is particularly noteworthy, since the patient is totally blind, but has managed to live independently for many years….

Betty is right beside her hubby in the “brother’s keeper” role--and the “sister’s keeper” as well.

She is secretary of the Sunday school class and makes announcements, and Wayne takes over for the teaching portion.

Wayne and Betty almost never miss, and are ever present for hospital visits. His cousin, Raymond West, leads music, so the “West Class” is aptly named….

Like numerous others in public service, West has patiently and cordially handled telephone queries with dignity and sincerity.

Ever so rarely, however, the dignity for which he has long been known has “gotten out of whack.” He says there is no explaining his response to a woman’s call several years ago. She explained that each night, she carefully put her medications in a cup, ready to be taken the next morning. Alongside her cup, another contained pills for her dog. “I’m not sure what to do,” she said. “This morning I took his medication instead of mine. What do you recommend?”

West responded, “Ma’am, if you start scratching yourself and chasing cars, you probably ought to see your doctor.”…

A comedian he isn’t. Friends who know him best, however, can’t imagine his responding in this manner.

“It just came out before I knew it,” West said. “She and her dog survived to ripe old ages, so I don’t suppose the ‘medication mix-up’ was of much consequence.”

He doesn’t work daily schedules anymore, but fills in as needed. The world needs his kind; he’s as good as it gets….

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