Peter Gerald Homan FRPharmS, a retired pharmacist, author and long-standing volunteer at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) Museum, has died aged 82 years.
Homan started his pharmacy career in the community sector, rising to become a store manager at Boots. In his later career, he became renowned for his passion for, and expertise in, the history of pharmacy.
In 1998, Homan took up the post of honorary secretary at the British Society for the History of Pharmacy (BSHP), a role he held for two decades. In 2015, he was awarded the BSHP’s Leslie Matthews medal for original and scholarly work in the history of British pharmacy.
Later, in 2018, he went on to be elected as president of the BSHP, remaining in post until October 2020. In 2013, Homan was also elected president of the British Society for the History of Medicine.
Roy Allcorn and Briony Hudson, honorary secretary and conference organiser, respectively, of the BSHP, said that Homan “revelled in sharing his knowledge” of the history of pharmacy. He was, they added, “the ultimate people person and loved all forms of personal interaction. Those whose lives were touched by him know exactly what we mean”.
“His prescription for life was to live it to the full, which he dispensed with infectious enthusiasm.”
Homan was active in the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries; he joined as a Yeoman in 2002 and went on to be promoted to Liveryman in 2008. He was a member of the society’s Faculty of the History and Philosophy of Medicine and Pharmacy, and also lectured on the society’s History of Pharmacy course.
Nicholas Wood, honorary curator at the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, described Homan as having “tremendous knowledge of the history of pharmacy”. Wood recalled a particular memory of himself, Homan and Ann Lewis, former secretary and registrar of the then Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, “exercising our rights as Liverymen and Freemen of the City of London, to drive our sheep across London Bridge.
“For this Peter and I ‘hired’ our sheep for half an hour for the price of a donation to charity and duly marched across the bridge with the sheep on a lead.”
Homan’s extensive knowledge of pharmacy history led to him authoring a chapter on community pharmacy history in Making Medicines, published by the Pharmaceutical Press in 2005. A few years later, he also co-authored Popular Medicines: An Illustrated History (Pharmaceutical Press, 2008), alongside Briony Hudson and Raymond C Rowe.
Homan was a longstanding part of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. He joined the Society in 1961, and later went on to be conferred with Fellowship. In his retirement, he became an integral part of the RPS Museum as a long-standing volunteer.
Paul Bennett, chief executive of the RPS, recalls Homan as a friend and colleague throughout his career. “I had known Peter back in the 1980s, having been sent as relief pharmacist by Boots to work with him in Epsom, the store he managed for many years,” Bennett said.
“Upon meeting him, it was immediately clear what a kind and supportive person he was, and they are the same traits I encountered again some decades later when on my first day I walked into RPS as the new CEO. He was one of the first to say hello, shake my hand and make me feel at ease.”
Bennett described Homan as a “much-loved member of the team here at RPS, having volunteered over a number of years in support of our museum, of which I know he was not only very proud but also very knowledgeable.
“Very sadly, Peter is the second of our museum volunteers to have passed away during the past 12 months. Norma Irvine passed away in April last year and between them Peter and Norma leave a big hole here at the Society. Our thoughts and best wishes are with the families and friends of both our lovely volunteers.”
Catherine Walker, museum officer at the RPS, said that Homan’s “passion for the history of pharmacy shone through his work at the RPS Museum.
“He was kind and engaging and dedicated to the museum, having volunteered for over 27 years. He will be deeply missed by everyone at the Society.”