Jack Edward Fruth was twenty years old when he entered pharmacy school at Ohio State University and among the fi rst group of the five-year class program with thirty-two fellow students. He graduated from Ohio State University School of Pharmacy with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in June of 1951. During his time at Ohio State University, Jack met Babs (Frances) Rhodes. Following graduation his journey led him to his first job as a staff pharmacist for Gallaher Drug Company in Springfield and Xenia, Ohio. It didn't take long before Jack realized the importance of being closer to home and the fact that Point Pleasant, West Virginia needed a pharmacy to service the community. Therefore, the fi rst Fruth Pharmacy located at 2119 Jackson Avenue in Point Pleasant, West Virginia opened its doors to the public on November 1, 1952. Jack Fruth, R.Ph. was on duty. With his mother, Marjorie Fruth, by his side, he ran the pharmacy that exciting first day and took in thirty-seven dollars. His adventure in business had begun.
Along his bountiful journey, he welcomed fi ve children: Mike, Joan, Carol, Lynne, and John, eight grandchildren, established a chain of pharmacies, impacted a community, a church, hundreds of employees and business associates, created scholarship funds, served on professional boards and educational advisory boards, not to mention the personal advisory posts he held for anyone in need. Whether directly or indirectly, he mentored all of us, in some fashion. He lent his hand, heart, and resources and most often quietly so. Although a number of folks could say they have been successful, it is the steps along the way that make his climb to higher ground such an inspirational journey.
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A JOURNEY OF GIVINGThe Life of Jack Edward Fruth, R.Ph.
By Angie Johnson
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Angie Johnson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneEarly Travel Plans
"She was the bane of my existence," Jack Fruth.
In the late 1800s, two brothers migrated from Germany to the United States and found themselves on the banks of the Ohio River. One of the brothers, Henry Fruth, decided to stay while the other continued on by way of the river. He eventually stopped in Fostoria, Ohio. Due to primitive means of communication, the brothers lost contact. It later proved obvious that the entrepreneurial spirit of the Fruth family resonated. Henry (Jack's grandfather) lived and raised his family including eleven children in Mason City, West Virginia. One of those eleven children was Henry Edward Fruth (Jack's father). To earn a living Henry's father worked in the salt furnaces. The salt in the Ohio River District was produced from natural brines obtained from bored wells. In the early 1900s, the production of salt from this district was estimated to be 500,000 barrels per year. With smoke stacks etched against the cliffs along the Ohio side of the river yet today, remnants of the salt furnaces represent a more industrial past.
Though the destination of all eleven Fruth children is unknown, at least five remained close to home. Henry was one of them along with Carl Fruth, Helen Fruth, Chris Fruth and Nora Fruth Loomis. Henry, born February 5, 1891, married Marjorie Rothgeb, born July 25, 1897 in October of 1914 at the Grace Methodist Church in Gallipolis, Ohio. After marrying, they lived in an apartment in downtown Point Pleasant, in the Hooff building. The Hooff building, near the post office, was a busy hub. The lower, rear level provided offices for the mayor, Harper's Furniture and Carpets Store along with other businesses. Just out back, the Hooff building served as a livery stable with a rear entrance that faced the Ohio River. An Opera House, on the second and third floor, seated eight hundred people and included a section of seating known as "the peanut heaven" that faced Main Street. A drug store, Hooff Drugs, was located on the ground floor. Jack's oldest sister, Kathryn, was born on May 22, 1915 while his parents lived there. Three years later, his middle sister, Emogene A. Fruth, was born in 1918. The two sisters enjoyed life on Main Street and kept a pony in the livery stable. Henry, a barber by trade, was an entrepreneur and Marjorie, a housewife by choice, was quite progressive. Henry barbered to support them, in the beginning, while he later began to buy, rent and sell properties. As time progressed, Henry and Marjorie acquired several properties and along with that came tenants. Point Pleasant was a productive, economically stable, inviting community in which to locate. Just as the town's historic state park, Tu-Endie-Wei, translates as "where the waters mingle", this was a thriving town where people wanted to mingle.
As the town grew, so did the need for rental properties. Henry continued to barber and maintain the properties while Marjorie drove about and collected the rents due. Interestingly, Henry never drove an automobile. Though Marjorie did drive and took him places to which he was unable to walk, his preference was walking. Without the need to carry a driver's license or spend money, Henry never carried a billfold. He carried one dollar, in his pants pocket, to be used only for an emergency. Marjorie had attended college for one year as a gift from her Uncle, who was a math teacher. He understood the importance of an education and wanted his niece to have that experience. She did not let that year of education go to waste. Although becoming a housewife was her chosen role, she used her acquired knowledge to make a better life for her family. In collecting the rents due, she would split the total in half. She would give Henry his half and she would keep her half in her cigar box or "the keeper of her treasures," as she referred to it. After all, she knew that a husband and wife relationship was a shared partnership, fifty-fifty. Marjorie was born and raised in Point Pleasant. Her mother lived on Main Street in a home that was removed some time ago and is now the parking lot for the Main Street Baptist Church. It seemed the intriguing and interesting Marjorie Rothgeb was enough reason to explain why Henry ventured down from Mason City to Point Pleasant.
Where prospering family members locate, others join. Carl W. Fruth (born in 1898) was Henry's younger brother that he and Marjorie took in when Carl was fifteen years old, after the death of their mother. Carl became a barber, under the tutelage of Henry, and the two operated the Fruth Barbershop on Main Street in Point Pleasant. Most folks, of that generation, had more than one haircut from there. Like his brother Henry, Carl did not drive. Their younger sister, Helen Fruth (born July 29, 1902), joined the family in Point Pleasant, as well, and became a beautician. Neither Carl nor Helen ever married or had children of his or her own. They shared a home together for the duration of their lives. In continuing to follow in his brother's footsteps with business ventures, Carl owned and rented out several properties in Point Pleasant.
For Henry and Marjorie, years passed and the two had planned and saved. In doing so, they moved closer to fulfilling their dream of opening their own retail store. An opportunity presented itself in Mason, West Virginia. Plans had been carefully considered and Henry had everything in place to embark on this exciting and new financial frontier with his wife, three daughters, and soon to arrive baby boy, Jack. Therefore, in the summer of 1928, the decision was made. Henry officially passed his scissors to his younger brother, Carl, and never barbered again. Henry and Carl's nephew by marriage, Louis Rossi, later joined Carl in the barbering business. He had worked at the Kyger Creek Power Plant for several years prior to changing career paths. Louis barbered in Point Pleasant for thirty-four years before he retired at age seventy-four.
The long awaited dream to own and operate their family business had arrived. But that wasn't the only thing that arrived that day. I liked to have imagined it was a relaxing day at home when labor set in and with much excitement the entire family rushed to the hospital to await the birth of baby Jack. But instead, Jack was born the very day his mother and father opened The Fountain on Main Street in Mason, West Virginia. On June 3, 1928, Jack Edward Fruth was born to Henry Edward Fruth and Marjorie Mae (Rothgeb) Fruth. Three older sisters (Kathryn, Emogene, and Henrietta) happily welcomed him. A day of celebration and excitement topped off by the blessing of the birth of a son made it a very special day.
The Fountain sold a few sundries but mostly ice cream. And after prohibition, they sold beer. With hardwood floors to walk upon, sundry dressed shelves to peruse over and personalized customer service at a lip's expression, relationships began between the Fruth's and their customers. Henry and Marjorie's business became successful. With the children taking part in store chores and services, the family grew closer and developed a clear understanding of what was required to offer proper public service to the customers in the community. Perhaps most importantly, Jack was absorbing every aspect of the business that would later serve to be of great value to him and many others.
Apart from life at The Fountain, Jack was also enduring day-to-day life with three older sisters at home. Most of which entailed a little mischief and mayhem.
He and Henrietta were inseparable, aside from the time she catapulted him off the end of the banister or put roller skates on him and pushed him off the porch steps. There were few times they were physically apart while growing up, but those were temporary and only until she picked him back up and brushed him off. He would say, "She was the bane of my existence."
Jack was a marble player. And some would say that was his second most favorite entertainment growing up next to fishing. Each day at school he would shoot marbles with his friends. He would earn all their marbles as his winnings. Many days he would have to leave school and walk home for lunch so he could empty his pockets. He had a huge collection of marbles.
And there was the dog. Yes, they had been given a Saint Bernard puppy as a gift. Their store, The Fountain, was just steps from their house. They sold a lot of ice cream and their dog ate a lot of it. Jack was remembered telling about how the dog would open wide while he and his sisters would drop entire scoopfuls of ice cream into his mouth. The family kept the dog until two years after Jack left for The Greenbrier Military Academy. Jack's dad found a loving taker one day at the store and sent the dog on his way.
With the growth of the business, the family then had the opportunity to move to a larger home in 1940. This home was in Buffalo, West Virginia. The family referred to this home as "the big house," as it was the largest and most remarkable they had owned. The Fruth family continued to work hard and build a stable foundation. As the business grew, so did the children. Jack grew out of one pair of dungarees and into another, but not to his liking. He grew up a working child. He stocked the store, cleaned the shelves and floors, pumped gas and basically did any and all chores that his parents were in need of. He became more and more proficient each year. It wasn't the hard work or repetitive chores that left Jack feeling uncomfortable; it was that he was forced to wear blue jeans. He had the stigma of being one of the poor kids that had no other choice but to be dressed in blue jeans. For him, a young man that had much pride in the presentation of things (he had turned merchandise and placed it perfectly to please his parents and the store customers his entire life), he found wearing blue jeans was a complete embarrassment. While growing up, he would frequently say, "If I ever get rich, I'll never wear blue jeans again!"
It was while attending Buffalo High School that Jack discovered his interest in math and science. By the time he had completed the ninth grade, he not only excelled in his studies but also had completed all the available upper level courses in math and science. His parents were very much aware of their son's abilities and wanted the best education available to ensure his future success. Thereby, his father did some investigating into the educational options that best suited Jack. After much consideration, Henry and Marjorie decided the Greenbrier Military School had the most to offer their son.
The Greenbrier Military School was a boys-only, private, military, boarding, high school located in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Pastor John McElhenney had founded it. The Pastor opened the doors to a select group of students around 1812. By this time, it was the mid forties. The school had proven to graduate some of the best-trained and well-educated men. Henry and Marjorie believed their son would fit right in. Henry placed a call and arranged for the family to have an interview with the office of administration. Shortly thereafter a representative from the school came to their home to discuss Jack's potential enrollment. With Jack's outstanding grade point average and impressive personal interview, he was accepted. The concept of such an opportunity to receive military training in leadership, potentially serve his country, complemented with a formal education sparked dreams of a progressive future. Jack was enthused!
It was not long before Jack was packed for Lewisburg. He was a visionary, even at this early age, and always thinking to the future. His mind worked not by considering what was right for today but what was right for tomorrow and the next day. He had the ability to envision the mechanism of how initiating one opportunity could bring you closer to another and then to another. Therefore, he saw the potential of what his parents were graciously offering. Jack was intuitive and used this opportunity to attend the Greenbrier Military School as a stepping-stone. One that would prepare him to move closer to his next goal which was to attend West Point and join the Army as an officer.
Chapter TwoThe Detour
"She was the most difficult sale of my entire career!" Jack Fruth.
During Jack's first year at the Greenbrier Military School, he became very ill. Measles, one of the most contagious of all human viruses, was beckoning a victim and fifteen-year-old Jack was the target. The 1940s saw the introduction of several drugs to treat various illnesses. For the first time, an antibiotic, streptomycin, was available to treat infections. Several drugs to treat high blood pressure became available. A vaccine to treat polio was isolated but not available to the public. Healthcare was primitive but evolving. In those days, the measles was one of childhood's greatest perils. The school attempted to provide intermediate nursing care for Jack, as was available to all students, but to no avail. What had begun as an infection of the respiratory system quickly became complicated with fevers reaching as high as 104 degrees, the onset of pneumonia and vitamin A deficiency causing vision damage. Jack's parents were notified of his illness. Unfortunately, the illness progressed to the point of blindness for Jack. It would be two more years, 1945, before the first influenza vaccines (flu) were used. And, it would be 1963 before the first measles vaccine would be available for human use.
Sadness and confusion erupted among the Fruth family members. How could this happen? Jack, with such a bright future and giving heart, was stricken to the point of helplessness. His sisters could not consider the thought of losing their little brother that they had become so attached to and dependent upon. Henry and Marjorie were not going to let him go without a fight. In an extensive inquiry, Henry and Marjorie learned of a physician, Dr. Shepherd, in Charleston, West Virginia who had performed experimental treatments that restored vision and health to children afflicted with measles. If it had worked for other children, why wouldn't it work for their Jack? It was worth a try. Henry and Marjorie did not hesitate to make arrangements to get their son from Lewisburg to Charleston and as quickly as possible. After Dr. Shepherd examined Jack, the decision was made that he would need a blood transfusion. This transfusion was an experimental approach, at best, not only for correcting his failed vision but also impaired health. He was, at this time, blind.
With his parents and three sisters at his side willing to do whatever was necessary to help, his oldest sister proved to be the match. It was Kathryn that saved his vision and potentially his life that day. Had it not been for this procedure, it is not known how much more physical devastation the virus would have caused if not death for Jack. It took months for him to recover. During those healing months, his vision returned a little more with each passing day. He and his family made several trips from Buffalo to Dr. Shepherd's Clinic, in Charleston, to check Jack's progress. After this illness claimed one year, he returned to the Greenbrier Military School more determined than ever to complete his education. He did so and graduated in 1946.
With his eyesight restored but permanently damaged, he was unable to attend West Point as he had first dreamed. That was a great disappointment for Jack. He had his mind set on becoming an officer in the US Army. He would have studied with the likes of future chiefs of staff to the President, astronauts, doctors of neurosurgery and other highly intelligent men. God worked in a mysterious way. If Jack had done so, he would have graduated in a class in which ninety-five percent of the officers who were sent to the Korean War were killed in action. There were more fatalities of officers, during the Korean War, for what would have been Jack's graduating class than any other year in history. Looking back, if Jack had not had the measles, which resulted in impaired vision, he too would have been on the front lines of the Korean War with the potential for a much different future.
Excerpted from A JOURNEY OF GIVING by Angie Johnson Copyright © 2012 by Angie Johnson. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsThe Oath Of A Pharmacist....................xiii
Early Travel Plans....................3
Welcome To Point Pleasant, West Virginia....................23
A Decade Of Safe Passage....................31
Transitioning Through The 1960s....................40
A Decade Of Personal Hardships....................52
A Decade Of Positive Traction....................62
An Outpouring Of Community Encouragement....................70
The Journey Leads To Higher Ground....................86
The Fruth Children....................124
A Few Friends And Colleagues....................157
A Few Words From Geraldine "Gerry" Bosworth....................158
A Visit With Laddie Burdette....................160
A Meeting With Charles Lanham....................167
A Visit With Ruth Kinnard....................170
A Talk With Oshel Craigo....................173
Reflections From Bernie Smith....................177
A Visit With Ruth Flowers....................181
Remembrances From James "Jim" Farley....................183
Memories Shared By Pastor Steven E Dorsey....................186
Fond Memories From C K Babcock....................189
The Impact Of Mr. Jack E. Fruth On The Lives Around Him From Dallas Kayser....................194
A Message From Mario Liberatore....................197
Remembrances From Eric Lambert....................199
Shared Comments From MICHAEL SELLARDS....................205
A Visit With Two Of The Fruth Grandchildren....................206
Letters From A Grandfather To His Granddaughters....................210
Jack Edward Fruth As A Freemason....................222
Civic And Social Activities....................226