CORNER BROOK — As a young boy growing up in St. Mary’s Bay, Seumas Gibbons would help his mom in the dispensary of his father’s general store.
His mother was district nurse in the area and he would help her count out medication and label the bottles they were put in.
She encouraged him to go into pharmacy and he did, graduating from the Newfoundland School of Pharmacy in St. John’s in 1963.
Recently, the 74-year-old who took his first pharmacy job in Corner Brook in 1963 and has lived there ever since, was honoured by the Pharmaceutical Association of Newfoundland and Labrador for his 50 years of service to the profession.
“I feel good about it,” Gibbons said in an interview. “I’m just fortunate to have had the good health to survive for 50 years. I’m very honoured.”
The highlights of his career are numerous. His first job in Corner Brook was split between the sanitorium, a facility that primarily dealt with the outbreak of tuberculosis in the province at the time, and at the Western Memorial Regional Hospital.
Tuberculosis was on the decline when he started and plans were being made to turn 50 of the beds at the sanitorium into general hospital beds. He would also be a firsthand witness to the expansion of Western Memorial Regional Hospital and would eventually manage dispensaries at health care centres throughout all of western Newfoundland.
In 1968, he was asked to join the nursing school faculty and taught pharmacology to nursing students in Corner Brook for 15 years. He also held numerous executive positions with the provincial pharmacists association and helped lobby government to establish a school of pharmacy at Memorial University in the 1980s.
In 1990, he became the first pharmacist from Newfoundland and Labrador ever appointed to the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, a national body that monitors medicine prices.
Gibbons saw a lot of tremendous advancements in medications during, from antibiotics to potent cancer treatment drugs, and the impacts they had on people’s lives.
His busy life went far beyond pharmacology. Gibbons has been a tireless community volunteer, having offered his time to the Knights of Columbus, Victorian Order of Nurses and the Rotary Club of Humber, just to name a few.
He is presently a member of the Western Memorial Hospital Foundation’s board of directors, which he has been since 1994.
He even spent a short time in municipal office as a Corner Brook city councillor from 1996 to 1998.
In 1986, he was awarded the A.H. Robbins Bowl of Hygeia by the Pharmaceutical Association of Newfoundland and Labrador which goes to a pharmacist who has made an outstanding contribution to their community.
Gibbons said he is certainly happy to have chosen pharmacy as his profession. He’s also glad to have done it in Corner Brook.
“I came to Corner Brook that first year and decided to stay,” he said. “I liked the place, I liked practising in the hospital setting and I met a lot of friends here.”
He retired in 1994, but hasn’t completely walked away from the work.
“I’m still available if they need me,” he said.