Tribute: William (Bill) Rucker

On 10 February 2021, William ‘Bill’ Rucker — a former Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society — passed away at Derriford Hospital aged 85 years.

Bill, born and bred in Manchester, studied at Plymouth School of Pharmacy, having come to Devon after seeing a photograph of Plymouth in the Sheffield University library. Here he met fellow student Anne Durrant who later became his wife.

Bill registered in 1959 and soon he and Anne opened their first pharmacy in Buckfastleigh, Devon, in 1961. They went on to own three more pharmacies on Embankment Road, Plymouth; Stoke, Plymouth; and Totnes. 

While living above the “shop” in Buckfastleigh, Bill and Anne had three sons: Nick, Stephen and Jon. Stephen, a mining engineer, sadly died in a mining accident in Botswana leaving behind his wife Karin and young son Alex. Nick obtained a business degree and is married to Diane, with whom he has a daughter, Kate. Jon undertook a pharmacy degree and went on to work in pharmaceutical industry. He is married to Claire and they have a daughter, Emily, and a son, Sam.

During his working life, Bill was a member and vice chair of the Devon Local Pharmaceutical Committee and a member of the Regional Pharmaceutical Committee. He was also a member of the Devon Family Practitioners Committee. In 1980, Bill was the organising secretary of the National Pharmaceutical Conference, which was held at Exeter University with more than 1,700 delegates. This was just after the time I first met Bill and Anne, as fellow members of the Plymouth branch of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS). Bill went on to be chair of the branch, and his leadership and support encouraged me to follow him into this position.

Bill was also chair of the Park Historical Pharmacy Trust, a registered educational charity. Opened in 1984, the trust pioneered recall reminiscence sessions with Age Concern and also ran award-winning hands on practical workshops for children. 

Bill was asked to become a member of the RPS’s Statutory Committee in 1980, a role he undertook seriously but with compassion and fairness. In 1985, Bill was made a Fellow of the Society.

Always aware of public duty, Bill was Mayor of Buckfastleigh and a member of Totnes’ Round Table association prior to becoming a Rotarian in Roborough Rotary Club. In this capacity, one of his roles was the organisation of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards scheme: a task he again undertook with fairness and enthusiasm. Through Rotary, he and Anne formed friendships with other Rotarians around the world. Hearing that international grants were available, he led the building of a children’s playground in Manadon, Plymouth. Bill became President of the Roborough Club and was made a Paul Harris Fellow.

Perhaps one of his most recent public duties to mention was his time as a local magistrate in Plymouth.

Above all else, Bill was a family man with a lovely sense of humour. This will be greatly missed, along with his generosity to public service, including his professional service. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Our sympathy goes to his family.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, March 2021, Vol 306, No 7947;306(7947)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.61373

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