Thomas R. Williams, 70, of Williamsburg, Va., died peacefully Feb. 11, 2014.
A Virginia pharmacist for 47 years, Tom was known for his tireless work ethic and a genial devotion to his clients. “Treat people like you want to be treated,” he said, “treat them with dignity, no matter what.” In 1990, Tom became the owner and president of Morgan’s Drug Store in Gloucester Court House, Va., a place he loved even as a child. “That was my home drugstore,” he said fondly. When he was about five years old, his grandfather would take him to the Bank of Gloucester every Monday morning to make deposits for the week. That’s when they would go next door to Morgan’s. “It had that special smell. I’d get a vanilla milkshake, and that was so good.” Opened in 1922 by Happy Morgan, Tom found himself the owner of the store seven decades later, carrying on the tradition of the locally-owned pharmacy as a lively focal point for residents of Gloucester Court House.
Tom earned his pharmacy degree from Medical College of Virginia in 1968, but his interest in pharmacy began much earlier. As early as age six or seven, he was mixing baking soda and vinegar in bottles for old-fashioned kitchen bombs. “I enjoyed my chemistry and physics, so I took those classes.” When asked what he was most interested in during his high school years, he said, “To get out of high school.”
For two years after high school, Tom worked as an electrician at Newport News Shipbuilding before attending Chowan College in Murfreesboro, N.C., where he graduated in 1965. It was at Chowan where he met his future wife, Jo Ann Cumbia. The couple was married for 47 years.
Tom’s first pharmacy position was at Jones Drug Company in Franklin, Va. The family lived in Franklin for a year before moving to Williamsburg where Tom joined Nottingham Pharmacy serving James City County. He worked under the aegis of owner Curtis Nottingham, a role model and mentor who encouraged his community service. That position was followed by a pharmacy role at Williamsburg Drug Company, and, in the 1970s, Tom worked with Newport News Shipbuilding where he is credited with helping establish the first fully computerized pharmacy in Virginia. Computerization for tracking and updating customer information and for inventory management was still new at the time of his pioneering work with the shipyard. Later he became a part of the Farm Fresh Pharmacy family in Poquoson. In the early 1990s, Tom purchased Morgan’s Drug Store where he was owner and president. After seven years with Morgan’s, he returned to Farm Fresh in Poquoson. He was Pharmacist Manager for Farm Fresh Pharmacy for 27 years, a long-term relationship he counted among his most treasured professional achievements. He spoke proudly of the clients he served and came to know so well in Poquoson and in Gloucester, considering many of them extended family.
Thomas Williams served as president of the Chesapeake Pharmacists Association, and was an active member of the Virginia Pharmacists Association and the American Pharmacists Association. He was honored by the Virginia Pharmacists Association with the coveted Bowl of Hygeia Award, recognizing pharmacists who have provided outstanding community service. Tom served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association, Tidewater Chapter, and also was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Phi Delta Chi Fraternity.
He was preceded in death by his son, Gregory Williams; his parents, Leslie and Allene Williams, and his sister, Connie Greene.
He is survived by his wife, Jo Ann Cumbia Williams and his daughters and their families, Amanda Turnage, L. Shaw Turnage, Casey Turnage, and Chase Turnage of Rancho Palos Verdes, Cal.; Suzanne Bailey, Richard Bailey, and Logan Bailey of Williamsburg; and Emily Williams of Richmond, Va.; as well as his sisters and their families, Cheryl Lumpkin, Joseph Lumpkin, and Dawn and Ron Healy; Carmen Hogge and Steve Hogge; brother-in-law and his family, Harold Greene, Jason Greene, Matthew Greene and Farrah Greene.
Memorial services conducted by the Rev. Gene Cumbia and the Rev. Richard Whiteheart were held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, at Union Baptist Church, 9254 Guinea Road, Hayes, Va. 23072. Inurnment was private. The family received friends Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Union Baptist Church.
In Tom’s memory, contributions may be given to Union Baptist Church, 9254 Guinea Road, Hayes, Va. 23072.
Arrangements by Hogg Funeral Home and Crematory, Gloucester Point.