PROFILE: Carpenter’s profession runs in the family
The following article was part of the Profile 2016 special section of The Luverne Journal. The section in its entirety can be found in the March 31 edition of The Luverne Journal.
It’s no secret that local businesses are the lifeblood of many small towns, and this statement continues to ring true with one establishment in particular.
Foster Drug Co., established in 1896 and located on 1554 South Forest Ave. in Luverne, has been one of the major pharmaceutical faces of the community for years now, and recently celebrated its 120th year in operation. The business officially moved to Luverne in 1976 and at the time was run by Henry Foster, the namesake of the store and father-in-law to Clemont Carpenter.
Carpenter, now 85, has given his time and talents to the town of Luverne as both a dedicated medical professional as well as an active citizen outside of the office. This year, Carpenter celebrates 60 years as a pharmacist, and was honored by his family with a dedicatory plaque and was also recognized at this year’s Chamber of Commerce banquet. Along with receiving his own reward, Foster Drug Co. was also awarded the Centennial Award to celebrate being in business over 100 years.
“My main goal in Luverne is to be a good citizen, serve the people and to raise a family,” Carpenter said.
When Carpenter finished his time in the service in 1951, he married and began looking for employment options. At the time, his wife had just graduated from Huntington College and she decided to send him to Auburn to get his degree in pharmacy. He completed his degree in 1954 and two years later moved to Luverne to continue the work of his father-in-law Henry Foster.
During his time in Luverne, he not only served as a dedicated pharmacist, but also played the role of council member and later mayor of the city. He served a total of 12 years as the mayor of Luverne and looks back on the experience fondly.
“That was quite an experience for me. It was an enjoyable time for me,” Carpenter said. “The people of Luverne and Crenshaw County have been so good to me.”
Along with helping raise five children, Carpenter also found time to engage in community service projects around the town. His involvement in these activities later helped him win the coveted Bowl of Hygeia award.
Established in 1958, the Bowl of Hygeia Award recognizes pharmacists who possess outstanding records of civic leadership in their communities and encourages pharmacists to take active roles in their communities.
Carpenter was also appointed to the Alabama State Board of Pharmacy from 1985 to 1990 by Gov. George Wallace.
Carpenter still reports to work every morning at 8:30 to open the store and stays until closing time. While the work week is not as strenuous as it used to be when they first made the move to Luverne, there have been many medical advances that have kept the Carpenters on their toes. Along with the technological advances of computers, the Carpenters have kept up with the changing times.
“It’s a learning process from day one, it changes every day. In 25 year’s time, it’s almost been a total change in the drugs we use and dispense,” Carpenter said. “You have to just be aware that everyday there is a change. You just have to do it. There’s a lot of material you have to read to stay abreast.”
When he first started in the world of pharmacy, Carpenter can remember the price of some medications only being 35 cents to 75 cents. He also remembers a time when only about two or three percent of his customers had insurance.
When he first opened, Carpenter recalls that the store was open seven days a week, and the work hours for the day easily added up to a 12-hour work day.
“For 20 years, I was the only person to ever turn a key in that store. After about 10 years, I started closing on Sundays, and that was about the biggest change of that time to be able to have Sunday off,” he said.
Clemont Carpenter never pushed his children to follow in his footsteps as a pharmacist, but it seems to run in the family blood. Of his five children, three continued the legacy of their father and pursued pharmaceutical work.
“I don’t think I knew anything but this. I never knew my great grandfather, but when you see your grandfather, father and uncle working in this field, it’s all I ever knew,” Alan Carpenter said. The line of pharmacists stretches far back into the family history, and now Alan Carpenter proudly carries on that family legacy by working side by side with his father.
“I saw how they helped people, and that inspired me and put a desire in my heart to be able to help people,” he said.
Alan Carpenter has worked with his father for 31 years, and would not trade his experiences for anything. Alan Carpenter sees it as an honor and a privilege to be able to serve with an experienced pharmacist like his father, and he is excited to see where the next few years will take them. Clement Carpenter has been blessed with a large family and now has 13 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
“I feel like I’ve had some kind of impact on the people of Luverne over the years. I hope I have. It’s been a great experience and I enjoy my work,” Clemont Carpenter said. “As long as I can enjoy it and have health, I guess I’ll be here. I have no plans for retirement; I tell them I don’t know the meaning of that word. God blessed me more than I imagined; more than I deserved.”