Credit: Carolyn Fath

Richard Kilmer, , Community Pharmacy

Richard Kilmer watched Community Pharmacy grow up over the last 40 years. As a pharmacist there, he's been a part of its evolution from a student-run resource in a basement to the thriving alternative health center that it is now.

Kilmer, 61, was a UW student when the pharmacy opened in 1972. "It was really funky [when it opened]," he remembers. "It was basically hippies running a pharmacy."

He joined the staff 12 years later, attracted to its structure as a worker-owned cooperative and its focus on social justice and open access to medical care. Over the years, the pharmacy incorporated holistic and homeopathic remedies to accompany its prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and it has maintained its emphasis on helping customers with or without insurance from all backgrounds.

"For a person who's politically active and wants to make a difference in the world, Community Pharmacy is a place you can do it," says Kilmer.

Kilmer used to spend much of his free time fundraising for political campaigns and serving on boards like that of the Madison AIDS Network. Now he's become devoted to his gardening, genealogy and country line-dancing hobbies.

Besides its mission to promote healthy living for all people, Community Pharmacy also strives to provide extensive customer service, which sets it apart from major chains.

While he was on hiatus in New York, a former Community Pharmacy patron chased after Kilmer in the subway, calling, "My pharmacist, my pharmacist!" Such loyalty from customers and employees is typical.

"The pharmacy felt like a family," Kilmer says. "I came back here [after the hiatus] for that sense of community."

Kilmer plans to stick with Community Pharmacy until he retires. "I'm proud to work there and proud of our accomplishments."

- Nora G. Hertel