Monday, February 6, 2012

George Wimberly dies at 92

Posted By on Mon, Feb 6, 2012 at 6:11 AM

BUICE DRUG: Its pharmacist passes.
  • Katie Cawley/Flickr
  • BUICE DRUG: Its owner passes.
A skeleton obituary appeared in the paid notices this morning for George Wimberly of Little Rock, with promise of a fuller obit to come.

Depending, that obituary could command a lot of space.

Wimberly was a pharmacist and owner of Buice Drug Store in Stifft Station, a former Little Rock mayor and a former state representative.

For many years, the Saturday morning gathering at Buice could include some of the city and state's most familiar and powerful political figures, plus Little Rock police and firefighters. His long association with city police led to the most notorious of Buice-related events, the 1988 suicide of suspended Police Chief Jess F. "Doc" Hale. The popular Hale was charged with theft after a hidden camera seemed to capture him removing money from a Buice cash register. Hale's defenders argued that he had permission to take money from the register and was set up, a controversy that died down but ultimately never wholly went away.

A visit to Buice was something akin to a visit to a druggist in the Wild West of yore. I've heard tell of teeth being pulled, hunting dogs being wormed and special mixtures prepared for a variety of ills. George would deliver a prescription to a shut-in at any hour of the night. I suspect — suspect — that emergency situations might have, in extreme circumstances, allowed delivery of a medicine outside of the customary path beginning with a handwritten doctor's note in patient's hand. This is merely conjecture, of course.

Oh, the stories the Buice regulars could tell. George led the fight to end smoking in the House chamber. He was a law-and-order lawmaker with a generally dim view of taxes. He held tremendous influence at one time over affairs at the neighborhood Schools for the Blind and Deaf. He was genial and soft-spoken and there was a stick of King Leo peppermint for any kid who dropped by with a granddaddy. He was still working in the last year or so, but I'd heard last week his long road was finally nearing an end.

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