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"Prescriptions for success"

Former pharmacists chosen
as this year’s parade grand marshals

McMakins’ sense of compassion
has touched many lives

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (July 2006) – Beverly and Billy McMakin believe in lending a helping hand to others – so much so that they practice what they preach daily, never passing up an opportunity to help those in need.

Bill & Beverly McMakin

Photo by Helen E. McKinney

Beverly and Billy McMakin will be
honored at a noon luncheon on July 11.

Known for years as the druggist at Head’s Drugs in La Grange, Billy McMakin said, “I really had a passion for pharmacy.” Likewise, Beverly kept the books, performed cosmetician duties and was just as familiar with the daily routine of the pharmacy.
The community will honor the McMakins with a Grand Marshal Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 11, at the John Black Community Center in Buckner. Sponsored by the Project Guild of La Grange, reservations are $8 per person.
Billy, 64, grew up on a dairy farm in La Grange. His parents were William Jr. and Kathryn McMakin. His father also worked for Belknap Hardware. The McMakins now live in the home his parents built outside of the La Grange city limits.
In addition to helping out on the farm, Billy would get up every morning at 4:30 to deliver papers when he was 15. He wanted a better job and applied at Crestwood Pharmacy upon learning that they were in need of help.
Hired as a soda jerk, Billy had no intention of going on to pharmacy school. Instead, he thought he would go into the engineering field due to several relatives who were in that line of work.
But the more he worked at Crestwood Pharmacy, the more he thought, “This is what I want to do,” he said. For a time he entered the U.S. Air Force after high school but always felt a strong calling for the pharmacy vocation.
Graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1966, Billy held various jobs until landing a full-time druggist position. He had always told Head that if he ever decided to sell his drug store in La Grange, to keep him in mind. Billy remembers his father calling one day to tell him that Head had finally decided to sell the drug store.
After having traveled around a bit, Billy said his goal was always to come back to Oldham County. He did so when he bought Head’s Drugs in 1973. He and Beverly, who had earned a business degree from the University of Kentucky, operated the pharmacy until 1994. They sold it to Taylor Drugs, with Billy remaining on staff for nine more months.
But the couple didn’t give up their career in the pharmacy vocation when they sold Head’s Drugs. Billy still works three days a week for PCA Inc., a health and safety consultant firm on Blankenbaker Lane in Louisville.
The McMakins attribute their nomination as Oldham County Day grand marshals to the many former customers and friends made while they worked at Head’s Drugs. Surprised at their nomination, Billy said it was “really humbling to be on the same list as past grand marshals.”
“It’s definitely not just a passing thing,” said Beverly, 64. Both are being honored for their dedication to the community and the way that they have unselfishly cared for those in need.
Oftentimes the couple would deliver prescriptions if a customer was unable to pick them up. If a prescription was needed immediately, “We would drive to get it to you,” said Beverly.
“It was our obligation to see that you got the prescription,” said Billy. For the McMakins, it was important to perform every aspect of their job, even if that meant inconveniencing themselves.
Project Guild member Betty Miller attends church with the McMakins. Billy has been a Deacon for the La Grange Christian Church for 12 years, the church in which he grew up. Miller said the McMakins “are very active in another organization, The Healing Place.”
After noticing an ad for volunteers in a pharmacy journal for The Healing Place in Jefferson County, Ky., the McMakins once again felt a calling related to their career choice. The Healing Place is a center for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, a lot of whom are homeless.
The McMakins help run the pharmacy for The Healing Place, filling prescriptions and providing counseling. They went from volunteering once a month to once a week and often find their work harder there than holding a full-time job. But they both agree that it is rewarding and they are very much appreciated for what they do for others.
Billy said that although it might be a hassle getting there, on the trip home they could feel that they have actually accomplished something good for someone else.
The McMakins are also involved in the La Grange Rotary Club, having been members for 33 years. “His dad was an active past president,” said Beverly. His father’s friend, Dick Radcliff, approached Billy about becoming a member by telling him, “This is something you have to do.”
One special Rotary Club project they participate in is a group study exchange. Young professionals from other countries travel to the United States to spend five weeks in Kentucky, living with members of the Rotary Club during that time.
This is a very rewarding program, said Billy. Young adults have come from Brazil, Mexico, the Netherlands, Australia, South Korea and Russian provinces. “Now we have homes in all these countries as well,” said Billy.
Steve Shultz, a fellow Rotarian, has known the McMakins for the past 30 years. Like many in the community, he met them through Head’s Drugs and in his own line of work as a State Farm insurance agent.
“The group study exchange is a program meant to encourage world peace and understanding,” said Shultz. Billy headed the La Grange Rotary Club’s participation and was heavily involved in making it work for the greater Louisville area, which is comprised of about 30 clubs, said Shultz.
The La Grange Rotary Club has been more active in the role of hosting visitors in this program, rather than sending members abroad. One Rotarian and four to five non-Rotarians are sent, and housed in Rotarian homes while spending their five weeks abroad.
The McMakins always work together as a team, said Shultz. “They get something done in the very best of fashion. When they say they’re going to do it, they do it together.”
Shultz said the McMakins worked long, hard hours in a fast-paced, pressure-filled environment while running Head’s Drugstore. “They are the epitome of what it means to be a truly married couple. They were always each others very best friend.”
Married for 42 years, Billy met Beverly by picking her out of a cheerleader lineup picture. Needing a date for the eighth-grade prom, he and a buddy decided they would like to take some Crestwood girls. After looking at some cheerleading pictures, Billy picked Beverly as his date for a hayride and prom the following night. They have one son, Billy, who lives in Lexington, Ky.
In addition to being a member of the Rotary Club for so long, Billy has been a board member for the YMCA and Oldham County Health Department. The couple has volunteered with Meals on Wheels, also.

• To make reservations for the Grand Marshall Luncheon, call Betty Miller at (502) 222-2266.

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