By Melissa Huber, I-O Reporter
When Jesse Parks and his wife Sharon settled in Conrad 42 years ago, they may not have known what an impact they would have on the community many years later. Now, in the wake of their retirement as Village Drug’s owners, no one can deny they did their part to serve the citizens of Conrad the best they could.
Parks’ path to becoming Village Drug’s owner and pharmacist began at the University of Montana School of Pharmacy, where he graduated in 1968. His first out-of-school experience in the pharmacy world was in the service of Don Vaupel who owned the Western Drug chain. Parks served in four of Vaupel’s stores, often working over 50 hours a week.
He then moved to Bozeman where he worked for another drug store chain, Super Save Drug, and also become the President of Bozeman’s City Pharmacy Organization.
After meeting and marrying his wife Sharon, the pair moved to Conrad in 1972 where they helped open and managed a new drug store. Parks and his wife were part owners until 1984 when they bought what then became Village Drug, Inc.
Though the Parks’ were already established in the community, Jesse sought to further their participation by becoming a member of the Montana State Pharmaceutical Association, becoming more active in his church (such as serving on the church council for three terms, and serving as president of the council for nine years, while also being active in various committees), and becoming a member of the Conrad Chamber of Commerce where he served on the Board of Directors and various committees. All this eventually led to him becoming Business Man of the Year in 1984.
His participation in the community did not stop there. Parks also served as President of the Conrad Swimmers Parents Organization for several years, served on the State Swimming Federation Board (five years of which was as its President), and also President of the Pondera County Board of Sanitation for four years.
His commitment to the swimmers of Conrad continued as he organized and served as the only President of the Pondera Pool Association, the association that started raising money and got the community behind a new swimming pool that was established in 1987.
He did all this while managing Village Drug with wife Sharon, raising two daughters Tawn and Tera, and acting as Village Drug’s pharmacist.
It should then come as no surprise that in 2000 Parks received the Bowl of Hygeia Award, an honor bestowed upon him by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories and voted on by the Montana Pharmacy Association. The prestigious award focuses on the unique contributions nominees have made not just in the pharmaceutical world, but in their communities, as well. Award winners are nominated by their respective associations for the outstanding service they provide for their community. Parks’ award in 2000 marked the first time that a pharmacist from Conrad had won the award.
Now, 42 years later, after having served in a multitude of ways, the Parks’ are ready to retire. They will remain in the town they have come to call home these many years, and as for Jesse, he will be dedicating more time both to his hobbies and his grandchildren Cadie, Kenzie, Evan, and Landon.
After a life consisting of dedication and sacrifice, often working anywhere from 50 to 60 hours a week, it’s no surprise the Parks’ are ready to pass the torch. After all, in the words of John Burroughs, “For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice—no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.”