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A fond farewell

July 2, 2009
The Daily Freeman Journal

By Aaron Follett - Daily Freeman-Journal Writer

Changes are underway at Thrifty White Drug Store on Willson Avenue this month.

After over 40 years of service, pharmacist Tom McLaughlin is saying goodbye to Webster City's Thrifty White Drug Store. McLaughlin is retiring on July 9.

Article Photos

Tom McLaughlin (left) a long time pharmacist at Thrifty White Drug Store shakes hands with his replacement, Krystal Kanealy who began work on June 1 this year. McLaughlin is set to retire on July 9 and has worked at the Thrifty White, formerly Thompson Drug Store, for over 40 years.

"It's been a pleasure," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin, born in Clinton, has been a Webster City pharmacist since 1969. He credits his interest in pharmaceuticals to an assignment he had to do in the 8th grade. The assignment was to do a report on a profession and McLaughlin interviewed a pharmacist. Intrigued, McLaughlin went to the University of Iowa to study pharmaceuticals for five years and graduated in 1967. His first job as a pharmacist was in Moline, Illinois, at a Walgreens.

With the Vietnam War still raging on, McLaughlin was about to be drafted, but was passed over when he failed the physical test. His wife Judy, whom he married in 1966, had a job at Thompson's Drug Store in Webster City. When he returned, his wife managed to get him a job that would last a lifetime.

"We're glad to make Webster City our home," said McLaughlin.

When Lenorad Thompson, the original owner of Thompson's Drug Store, put his store up for sale in 1976, McLaughlin and his wife bought it and became co-owners.

Owning a pharmacy has been a rewarding and trying experience for McLaughlin. Work became more than the assigned office hours.

"We close at 6, but kids get sick at midnight," McLaughlin said.

Pressures from the medical insurance companies made his work more difficult. Regulations by the government and insurance companies put the squeeze on profits and the medical profession is always shifting and changing making it hard to keep up with current trends and technology, said McLaughlin.

However, McLaughlin said that it was the people that made the work rewarding. Being a pharmacist has made McLaughlin create bonds with the people of Webster City. Talking with his customers has been it real reward, he said.

In 1999, McLaughlin and his wife sold the store to the Thrifty White Company.

"It was getting time to think about retirement," said McLaughlin.

McLaughlin has no long-term plans once his retirement comes, but he does wish to do some traveling and see some friends. His wife retired two years ago.

A new face at Thrifty White

With McLaughlin's retirement, the Webster City Thrifty White Drug Store has a new face. Krystal Kanealy, 24, is taking over the position.

"I've got big shoes to fill," said Kanealy.

Kanealy, born in Perry, attended Drake University in Des Moines where she graduated on May 16. She has seven and a half years of experience in pharmaceuticals including jobs, internship, and clinical rotations and is no stranger to the life of a pharmacist.

"It's very tough, very late nights," Kanealy said.

Kanealy said that one of the obstacles she faces is earning the same trust from the customers that her co-workers have. However, she has already earned the respect of her peers.

"We are very very pleased to get her," McLaughlin said.

Longtime pharmacist McLaughlin had imparted some words of wisdom to Kanealy, such as using her best judgment in "murky situations".

Already used to small town life in Perry, Kanealy reported that she had no trouble adjusting to Webster City or her new job.

Kanealy began work on June 1.



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