Eugene “Gene” V. White, devoted husband, father and family pharmacist, died December 9, 2011, in Berryville, Va. His courageous stance for patient-centered care and medication therapy pioneered new standards for community pharmacy practice focused on patient care above retail product-centered care. His passion and dedication inspired generations of new, innovative pharmacists who can trace the roots of their philosophy to the concepts first promoted by Gene and a courageous group of like-minded pharmacists that he mentored. Today’s patient-care medical team owes much to this intelligent, dedicated and humble visionary. At his memorial service in December, friends and colleagues shared their remembrances of a dear friend and colleague.
“True leaders are ordinary individuals with extraordinary determination,” said Alan McKay, professor and dean of Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy. “I would add to that ‘vision.’ On November 11, 1960, Gene changed the profession of pharmacy forever. In a very carefully worded letter to his ‘patients,’ Gene declared his intent to remodel his pharmacy into a prototype pharmaceutical center where the emphasis would be on the patients and their health-care needs and not on the products and merchandise that had come to dominate community pharmacy in the previous 50 years.
“An ordinary person lives his life as a reflection of his time, but Gene was not a reflection of his time; he was a vision for the future,” said McKay. “The vision he created led to a standard of care embraced by a new generation of pharmacists who understood the importance of patient education, medication therapy management and the acquisition of the knowledge and skills to make it all work. Gene would think me remiss if I did not credit his partner in life and in vision—his beloved Laura—who not only supported his vision but also shared it and made it her life’s work also. They were a formidable pair, these two soul mates, and we are all the better for it.”
Pharmacist Bruce McWhinney began his career at 14 years old as delivery boy at White’s Pharmacy in Berryville. He described Gene White as man of self reliance, one who embodied what Ralph Waldo Emerson called “…the great man…who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
“Gene White was a very good man, and one of the brightest people I have ever known,” said McWhinney. “He lived for his family, his patients and for his profession. His intellect was far, far superior to the majority of us, yet he was humble and selfless, even to the point, at times, of selfdeprecation. Gene played numerous roles in my life and more as my career evolved. He was my first employer, a second father, mentor, coach, cheerleader, colleague and trusted friend. As I reflect on all these roles, what impresses me is not only what he did, but how he did it— in his character and the values he demonstrated. He was a visionary, an innovator and risk taker in the service to others. I feel deep gratitude [for] this extraordinary man who touched so many people and made such a difference that will be felt long, long into the future.”