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Ostroms former owner celebrates 80th birthday, family celebrates 50 years in Kenmore
Dick Ramsey will celebrate his 80th birthday at the end of the month. It is a momentous occasion for anyone lucky enough to meet the milestone. But this will also mark the 50th year that the Ramsey family has been operating Ostroms' Drug & Gift in Kenmore.
“I’ve had a great ride … and I plan to keep on riding," said Ramsey.
He is still going strong long past the age when most retire, reporting to work daily at Ostroms’ busy pharmacy operation. Oestroms' management is planning a celebration to commemorate his birthday on Jan. 31. Customers and well-wishers are encouraged to stop in for birthday cake and refreshments.
Ramsey gives a quick and emphatic answer when asked why he continues at Ostroms, joking his wife doesn’t want him around the house.
“The people, I love people. We have a great, caring group of long-time customers including children and grandchildren of our customers from the 1960s," said Ramsey. "And a wonderful team of co-workers who care about our business and our customers just as passionately as I do.”
Ramsey has seen a lot of change in pharmacy during 55 years in the profession.
“We expected our pharmacists to oversee virtually all aspects of the store’s operation,” said Ramsey of when he began in pharmacy.
Now, with the increase in the types of conditions that can be treated with pharmaceuticals, Ramsey said that pharmacists mostly spend their time working with doctors, making sure prescriptions are filled accurately, and helping patients understand their medicines. Communicating with patients is Ramsey’s favorite part of the job.
“I have always loved helping people, and by continuing to work, I get that opportunity on a daily basis,” he said.
Perhaps the biggest change was the 2009 relocation of Ostroms from Kenmore Village to the current location on Bothell Way. Ramsey admits to being concerned about the move.
“I grew up in a different era of this business," he said. "Pharmacies were located in shopping centers as an afterthought to the grocery store anchor tenant.”
However, after four years in the new location, Ramsey sees the benefits.
“Our new store is more visible, more accessible, and is comprehensively planned with an eye to filling prescriptions quickly and accurately and giving customers easy access to the pharmacy,” he said.
He further notes the addition of a dedicated private counseling area as a boon to communicating with patients: “something we just didn’t think of in 1963.”
Ramsey has given a lot to the Kenmore community. During the past half century he has served on the Northshore School Board for 14 years, is a 48-year member of Northshore Kiwanis and spent several years on the now-defunct Metro Transit Council.
For many years Ramsey was one of Kenmore’s premier athletic boosters, sponsoring countless Little League teams and high school athletic programs. In 2004, Ramsey was recognized by the Kenmore Heritage Society with its highest honor as the third annual recipient of the McMaster Heritage Award.
Although Todd Ramsey purchased the business from his father about 15 years ago, Ramsey still comes to work – but now, on his own schedule.
“When I want to play golf, I can just leave,” said Ramsey, noting that he knows the store will run smoothly.
Ostroms will offer 20 percent off all purchases on Jan. 31, excluding prescriptions.