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By ANNETTE HARVISON / Dispatch Contributor
Just before the holidays began last year, one community business began its 50th year of service to local residents.
In October 1973, a young couple moved into town, with hopes and ambitions of living a good life in a small town while serving the community at the same time. That’s what they’ve done, and they couldn’t be happier.
Warren and Becky Strickland have both loved serving the community in healthcare by providing the town with a pharmacy with a caring staff. Strickland’s Pharmacy has been a staple in Richton, and the Strickland’s said they are thankful for all the years of support from all their customers.
“Customers isn’t even the right word,” Warren said. “They’re our friends, and we help with their healthcare needs. I have a part of healing people through the medication and through my knowledge of medicines.”
“When a child gets well, I am so thrilled to see that.”
Their oldest son was two weeks old when they moved to town, Becky said. They had been waiting on him before making the move from Birmingham, Ala., after Warren had finished school. In the past 50 years, they have seen families grow alongside their own. They have seen changes in their location, in the town, in the business, and through it all, the community was right there with them, Becky said. They gave back to the community in other ways, too, she added. They wanted to see their town thrive, and they wanted to be part of it.
“We’re on the fourth and fifth generations of some families,” Becky said. “We say we helped raise them. We feel like we watched them grow up.”
“We have been involved in the community, and we have been able to give back to the community through the school, Boy Scouts and sports. We sponsored a Dixie Youth team. With three sons, we were very much involved. Our business has afforded us that opportunity.”
Warren said he is thankful for their relationship with the community, and he’s always happy to see those youngsters that he watched growing up come in with their own little ones. The fact that those children remember him makes him smile and warms his heart. That’s what community is about, after all.
“One of my greatest thrills is the small child I encountered when they were young, they come back and I don’t know who they are because they’re all grown up, but they know me and ask how I’m doing.”
Although there have been many changes throughout the years, especially in the healthcare field, the Stricklands have maintained their independent pharmacy status, which is something that has been important to them. While Warren has been the pharmacist, Becky has been his teammate by helping on the business side as well as becoming a pharmacy technician. They enjoy working together and are a great example of commitment to their community. Warren said he didn’t ever worry much throughout the years because he knew where to put his trust.
“It (running the pharmacy) has not been hard because I depend on God so much,” Warren said. “I let Him take care of everything, and everything has worked out for the best because I depend on Him.”
“I’m going to keep doing it (pharmacy) until I get ready to go home. I love it. I enjoy my customers. I’m only part-time now, but as long as I enjoy it, I am going to stay.”
One of their employees, Todd Lee, has been with the pharmacy for more than 30 years, Becky said, and another, Elaine Graham, has been there for 25 years. They are like family, and they show their customers and anyone who makes their way to the pharmacy a friendly smile and courteous and caring service. Becky said the pharmacy environment they have is one of the things that have kept them going so long.
“The values of customer service are very important to us,” Becky said. “That’s important to us, and we love our employees. We have raised Todd.”
Todd said he has loved working with the Strickland’s, and he is thankful for the opportunity he got so many years ago.
“I am grateful to be here,” Lee said. “I grew up here. I started working for the Strickland’s right out of high school, when they were in Greer’s.”
While Warren and Becky both hail from neighboring counties, they made their home in Richton. Warren is a Wayne County native who grew up on Camp Eight Road and whose family made their way into Richton to buy groceries and other things. Becky is a Jones County native who attended Jones County Junior College and met a handsome young man named Warren Strickland. The couple dated throughout their time at Jones and married after their graduation. Warren had received scholarships to two different schools to complete his pharmacy degree and chose to attend Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., on a full academic scholarship. The couple spent three years in Birmingham before making their way to Richton. Becky said she went back to school to get her pharmacy tech degree, and the couple moved the pharmacy a few times before making their way inside Ramey’s.
“When we moved here, we moved into Pratt’s Pharmacy,” Becky said. “He had recently passed away. We were there 12-15 years, then we moved inside the IGA, which then became Greer’s. We moved to the Sunflower, then it became Ramey’s. We’ve been here a long time.”
The couple hopes to serve the community for several more years, and they want the community to know how thankful Strickland’s Pharmacy is for over 50 years of customers.