West Island pharmacist retires after 65 years
Published Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:25PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 18, 2017 10:33PM EST
At his drug store in Pointe-Claire, Jim McDermott holds the hand of longtime customer Eileen McCullough.
“You are family,” he tells her. “I remember serving your husband and also having long discussions with him about fly fishing.”
For the last 65 years the pharmacist has kept his business small and personal, and as a result he’s served multiple generations of families in his community.
“What has always fed me is people,” he said. “I love meeting people and the privilege of serving them.”
For over six decades his charm has rubbed off on clients like McCullough.
“He’s absolutely super,” she said. “He’s just a fine person to work with.”
But now the 87-year-old is retiring and trading in his white coat to pursue his love of fishing and other hobbies.
His long career began at l’Universite de Montreal where he studied pharmacy. In fact, he was classmates with a man named Jean Coutu, who went on to create a mega-chain of franchise pharmacies throughout Quebec.
“He was a very sociable and a very likeable fellow,” McDermott recalled.
McDermott on the other hand, stayed small. At one point he branched out and owned three pharmacies, including one with a soda counter.
Customer Bruce McCullough remembers spending time there as a kid.
“My friend and I would come in after delivering our papers, relax, eat some french fries and coke,” he said.
Throughout his career McDermott believed his work was a privilege that meant going above and beyond merely filling prescriptions.
“When you're an owner of a pharmacy you have to look after and go beyond, have to reach them,” he said.
His love of the job was infectious and eventually it became a family affair. His daughter Wendy eventually joined him, and has been running a medical clinic at the drug store for over 30 years.
His granddaughter Alexandra also joined the family business.
“He got to give me wonderful values, work ethics,” she said. “Like I said, it's a privilege I got to know him and spend time together.”
Last month McDermott sold his pharmacy to a young couple who say they will try to run it just like him, though they might not stay at it as long.
“Thank you Pointe-Claire,” he said. “Thank you to all the clientele. It was a roller coast ride, and I really enjoyed it.”