Elwin H. Alpern, 74, pharmacist who led professional association

May 19, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Elwin H. Alpern, a retired Odenton pharmacist who headed his profession's state association, died Thursday of complications from a stroke and cancer at Northwest Hospital Center in Randallstown. He was 74 and lived in Stevenson.

The president of the Maryland Pharmacists Association from 1988 to 1989, he had earlier headed the Baltimore Retail Druggists' Association.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Dolfield Avenue in Northwest Baltimore, he was a graduate of Polytechnic Institute, where he played on the football team. He studied at the University of Maryland, College Park, and earned a degree in 1951 from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

In the 1950s, he was inoculated with the then-new polio vaccine. He was one of the few people who contracted the disease from the injection. He spent a year in bed and three years in rehabilitation before he opened his pharmacy.

For 43 years, he owned the Odenton Pharmacy on Route 177 opposite the entrance to Fort Meade. He also operated another pharmacy, the Beacon, in the Odenton Shopping Center.

"He was everybody's friend," said Howard Schiff, director of the Maryland Pharmacists Association. "He had a tremendous memory and could remember names. He always inquired about family members. This made him an excellent community pharmacist."

Friends recalled Mr. Alpern as an outgoing person who enjoyed working with his fellow druggists. From 1969 to 1997, he made travel arrangements for his professional groups for annual conventions and trips.

"His work was a very personalized business for him," said his wife of 51 years, Betty Lee Oletsky Alpern. "He practically became a member of the Odenton community. Until the fast-food operations took the business away, he also kept a soda fountain at his store. If you didn't have the money, he'd say, `You'll pay me when you get your check.' He couldn't stand it when the insurance companies wouldn't pay for people who had terminal illnesses. He would get very upset."

"He cared deeply about his clients and his patients," said Dr. Neil J. Napora, his son-in-law, who lives in Columbia. "He did these little extra things - he was the kind of man who went out of his way for strangers."

Mr. Alpern, a lifelong sports fan, followed the Orioles, Colts and Ravens.

At the end of World War II, he served in the Navy aboard the USS Abilene in the North Sea.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. today at Sol Levinson & Brothers, 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Shelley Napora of Columbia; a brother, Robert M. Alpern of Baltimore; and two grandchildren.

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