Fueled By Pharmacy

Published on 19 July 2018

Lillie Smith, B.S. ’68, grew up in a small farming community in southeast Missouri. She knew she wanted to attend college, but as a high school student, she had not yet decided what career to pursue. During her junior year, she visited her aunt and uncle who owned pharmacies. Those visits provided just the inspiration she needed. She applied to St. Louis College of Pharmacy and began her studies in fall 1961.

“To be honest, I was not prepared to attend any college,” Smith explained. “In my senior year, the chemistry class that my little high school offered was ‘Chemistry on Film,’ which was exactly as it sounds. When I told my chemistry professor, Dr. Don Sheets, about the class he laughed and said that one of his colleagues had made that film.”

Smith admits that it took perseverance and a few extra years to get through the rigorous coursework at the College, but she still remembers fondly the professors that went the extra mile to help her succeed.

“The coursework was hard, but Dr. Haberle, Dr. Zimmer, Dr. Barnes and Dr. Mercer — they were all so helpful and encouraging,” Smith recalled. “But one of my favorite people was Phyllis Sarich. She would always come in at the last minute, hang her coat in the locker, put on her lab coat and primp before she put on her lipstick. She would always ask me what kind of lipstick I had.”

Smith stayed connected to Sarich after her time at the College. When Sarich was awarded the Loyalty Award from the Alumni Association in 2011, Smith sent her a tube of lipstick.

“She met me at the door of a Mortar and Pestle Society dinner and said, ‘I’ve been waiting for you! I picked these lilies out of my yard for you!’” Smith shared. “She had them wrapped in tin foil.”

While at the College, Smith made lifelong friendships, and she found a career that fuels her. Though Smith is in her early 70s, she still works full time at Dierbergs Pharmacies as a relief pharmacist.

“I know I could retire, but I just can’t give it up yet,” Smith said. “I look forward to getting up and going to work. I’m a people person. I enjoy helping someone, and in pharmacy, you’re constantly helping someone. When they give you a smile or say thank you, it just reminds me why I love this work.”

Smith’s drive to help others is something she expresses by giving back to the College. She and her husband, Charlie Smith, B.S. ’50, have remained active with the College, attending events and establishing a scholarship that is awarded annually.

“When you go back and give back, it may not be a lot, but you are helping somebody,” Smith said. “The College has extraordinary students coming out of there. They are really top-notch people and so bright. They are willing to do things and willing to learn. I want to help the College continue to educate these excellent pharmacists.”

This story was first published in the spring 2018 issue of Script. Visit stlcop.edu/script to read more and access previous issues.