Harry R. Wille Jr., 77, pharmacist who owned drugstore in Arbutus

March 22, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Harry Robert "Doc" Wille Jr., a retired pharmacist, died of lung cancer Saturday at his Pasadena home. He was 77.

He worked in drugstores for several decades, from a time when neighborhood pharmacies featured soda fountains to their struggle to keep pace with large chain drugstores.

For 19 years, he owned and operated Hollywood Pharmacy in Arbutus.

Born in Baltimore, he graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1944. He served for two years in the merchant marine, where he was a boatswain. Upon returning home, he worked in shipyards while helping to take care of his father, who was dying of cancer, and his mother.

He then worked in the Irvington Pharmacy in Baltimore, first at the soda fountain and later with pharmacists who encouraged him to pursue a career in pharmacy. His mentor was James P. Craig, owner of the pharmacy, said a son, Charles Wille of Pasadena.

He attended the University of Maryland Pharmacy School, graduating in 1954. He worked at Irvington Pharmacy until 1976, when he bought Hollywood Pharmacy.

"He was known by the community, people knew him as a pharmacist who would talk to the customers, talk about their medicines with them," Charles Wille said.

As other drugstores computerized their operations, he continued to keep files on paper and individually typed medication labels. "A lot of the older people liked that. They would walk up to him and ask about their medicines, and he maintained their files," his son said.

He recalled that his father financially aided customers who could not afford their medicines.

Charles Wille operated his own small business, selling baseball cards in the store from 1990 to 1995 - his father's way of teaching his son entrepreneurship.

The neighborhood pharmacy also stocked hardware, cosmetics and candies.

Amid competition from chain drugstores, the pharmacist retired and sold the business in 1995 to Rite Aid, which transferred the files to its nearby store and closed Hollywood.

His wife, the former Suzanne J. Mastrouni, whom he married in 1974, opened Hollywood Dollar and More in that location, and added two similar stores over the next few years in the Baltimore area. In retirement, he did the accounting for the stores and helped her operate the businesses.

He was a longtime member of St. John's United Church of Christ in Catonsville.

He served as president of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy Alumni Association from 1969 to 1971.

With his family, he created a Dr. Frankenstein-themed station from 1990 to 1994 along the Haunted Halloween Trail in Downs Park in Pasadena. The trail was a fund-raiser for the Anne Arundel County park. The station won a local award.

He was an avid reader.

He also enjoyed spending time "looking at the bay and admiring the beauty of where he lived. He'd rake leaves all day. We knew it was his excuse to just be out there looking at the bay," Charles Wille said.

A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. John's United Church of Christ, 1000 S. Rolling Road, Catonsville.

In addition to his wife and son, survivors include another son, Harry Robert Wille III, also of Pasadena, and two grandchildren.

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