Samuel Patrick Jeppi, 95, owned pharmacy in West Baltimore

December 10, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

As pharmacist and owner of the S. P. Jeppi Popular Pharmacy, Samuel Patrick "Doc" Jeppi was considered the source of medical wisdom to nearby West Baltimore residents and many believed there were few ailments he couldn't cure.

All of Doc Jeppi's remedies weren't pills and prescriptions. For instance, when a customer came into his drugstore suffering with a toothache, he'd suggest an ice pack at home instead of an over-the-counter medicine.

"Pharmacists in those days were looked upon as being doctors," said his granddaughter, Caroline Jeppi of Baltimore. "They were thought of [as] being experts on many illnesses."

Mr. Jeppi, 95, who died of pneumonia Wednesday at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, had a deep concern for his customers because most of them were friends first.

"He didn't want you to take medicine just for the sake of taking medicine when something else could ease the pain just as easily," said Edwin Warren, a longtime resident of Walbrook, where Mr. Jeppi had a drugstore for 27 years.

"He knew also that people didn't have much money. So as much as he wanted to make a buck, he wanted to save his friends some money, too."

Mr. Jeppi opened his drugstore in the 1500 block of Bloomingdale Road in 1929 -- at the beginning of the Great Depression -- and operated it until 1956.

The store was open seven days a week and he was there nearly every day.

He had to be there because of a law that required a licensed pharmacist be on duty when the pharmacy was open.

"His work ethic was amazing. Sometimes he'd go there when he was sick and could barely stand, but he'd still make it there," said his son, John C. Jeppi of Towson. "No matter what, he had to fill the customers' needs."

The drugstore also had a soda fountain and sold sandwiches and toiletries and served as a gathering place for the community where an interesting array of regulars hung out:

Sy the mailman, who stood near the soda fountain daily and enjoyed free drinks, often delaying mail delivery.

Joe, a former prize fighter who shadowboxed in the aisles with employees.

Georgia, once Miss Maryland, whom Doc Jeppi just liked having in the store for "bragging rights."

The driver of the No. 4 streetcar who always included the S. P. Jeppi Popular Pharmacy as a landmark when making his rounds and giving tours. He also recited specials advertised in the store window.

The drugstore was across from a church and each Sunday at 11 a.m. Mr. Jeppi would tell the counter clerk to fill 24 Coke glasses and line them up on the counter.

"He knew the church people and after service they would all come in for a soda. It was like clockwork," his son said.

A native of Baltimore, Mr. Jeppi graduated from Baltimore City College in 1920, the Johns Hopkins University in 1924 and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in 1925.

He married Marie Shank in 1933; she died in 1984.

He was one of 11 children of parents who immigrated to Baltimore from Sicily, Italy, in the late 1800s and established John Jeppi & Brother Nut and Candy Co., which still exists.

Mr. Jeppi was a member of the Loyola High School and Loyola College Fathers' Club, the Wedgewood Club and the Baltimore Veteran Druggists Association. He also was an usher for many years at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland.

A funeral Mass was offered Saturday.

In addition to his son and granddaughter, he is survived by a brother, Anthony Jeppi of Baltimore; two sisters, Elizabeth Mitcherling of Baltimore and Angela Ziers of Seattle; three grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Memorial donations may be made to the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, 7200 Harford Road, Baltimore 21234.

Pub Date: 12/10/96

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