Tribute to John Graham

My father, John Graham, who died in February aged 98, owned and personally managed his pharmacy in Smallthorne, Stoke-on-Trent, for almost 50 years. He was the younger son of a pharmacist, Frederick Foster Graham, who had practised in South Africa before returning to England in 1910, when he became a member and set up the pharmacy my father inherited.

John registered in 1938. He joined the army in September 1939 and, following the death of his father in 1944, left soon after the end of the war to manage the family business. He worked in that pharmacy until he retired in 1994, and still did the occasional locum for a period after that.

The response on Facebook to his death (over 60 comments in 24 hours about a 98 year old!) was a measure of how much he was respected and even loved in the local community. So many of the local community commented on the support and advice he gave – including: “When it says ‘shake the medicine’, shake the bottle not the child”. His local chapel where he had worshipped all his life was full for his memorial service.

He read
The Pharmaceutical Journal
until his last few months (and, when he had to go into hospital, took MIMS with him so he could check what was being prescribed) and maintained his membership of the Society to the end. He was enormously proud of being a pharmacist and of the contribution he made to the health of his community.

David Jones, who became John’s partner in the pharmacy (and was a friend of mine from school) tells me that patients always came first with John; he had a principle that he never lost a prescription — if he hadn’t got it, he would usually make it (ointments were his specialism). His vision of customer service included limiting waiting time to a minimum, collecting prescriptions from patients’ homes if housebound, delivering dispensed items, and working long hours to cover the late evening surgeries.

David also added that John was an excellent employer, generous to his staff, instilling loyalty in return; no one ever left FF Graham, his pharmacy, without good reason.

Outside work he was a great father of five children and an avid golfer. In later life when his children had left home, he took up gliding and was treasurer of the local gliding club for 20 years. He had an enormous zest for life. Life with him was never dull.

Last updated
Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 25 April 2015, Vol 294, No 7859;294(7859)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2015.20068350