Pharmacist Pioneer of Spokane

Marguerite Villars had planned on going to medical school, however her uncle suggested taking pharmacy first. After she got her first degree in Accounting and Business, which helped put her through pharmacy school at University of Washington, she was hooked on staying in pharmacy by the time she graduated in the late 1940’s. She returned to Spokane, and wanting to experience as many areas of pharmacy as she could, she often worked part-time positions at several different facilities. She worked at several community drugstores in Spokane, consulted with Indian Health Services in eastern Washington, worked part-time at Coulee Community Health and Eastern – often putting thousands of miles on her car a month. Her peak mileage was 6,000 miles in a month. At the time, working overtime for little or no additional pay was the standard. It was also expected that, if needed, medications would be delivered by the pharmacist, which often happened after hours and at their expense.

She was appointed as the director of pharmacy at St. Luke’s Hospital, and her business background came in handy as she handled procurement and other business aspects, in addition to directing pharmacy operations. She was able to incorporate many aspects of her clinical training and encouraged her staff to do so as well. She and her staff pharmacists precepted many students at St. Luke’s, and developed some innovative programs.

She was an early adopter of computers. By the early 1980’s, she and her students wrote a program to gather lab data for pharmacists to utilize in their review of medication orders – the first system of this kind in Spokane. Her motto was “St. Luke’s may be small, but we’re going to be the best.”

While precepting students, Marguerite would share her philosophy about the pharmacy profession saying, “this is a profession that is always changes and change is good.”  She felt that the pharmacist was who connected the patient with the doctor, and she believed this was a valuable service to both parties. Washington State University made her an associate faculty member and the WSU students “adopted” her as an honorary Cougar (despite the University of Washington background) because of her dedication to the profession and her interest in helping them succeed.

Marguerite’s legacy has been shaped by her length of service and sphere of influence to the pharmacy profession. She has seen many changes to community and hospital pharmacy practice in her 50+ year career, often helping to create those changes. The lives of the students she mentored and the colleagues she work with were deeply enriched by her professional support. She served on both the Washington State Pharmacy Association and Spokane Pharmacy Association boards, and she maintained an officer position within SPA for over 65 years. She is committed to community service in various other arenas, but most notably, provided professional support to pharmacists and students at every opportunity. The pharmacy community in Spokane would not be the same without Marguerite Villars.

Marguerite Villars Spokane Pharmacy Association Endowed Scholarship

The Spokane Pharmacy Association (SPA) has been a presence in the Spokane area since 1921. When Marguerite Villars returned to Spokane in 1949 with her degree in pharmacy, there were no women pharmacy owners, few women pharmacists, and no female members in the association. She joined SPA in 1950 as an associate member and has been an active member for over six decades. She served as president and was secretary/treasurer for over 50 years. Through her work as a pharmacist at St Luke’s Hospital and SPA activities, Marguerite helped in the evolution and incorporation of clinical pharmacy practice into the greater pharmacy community. Marguerite, even into her 90’s, still attends many SPA functions, and she is recognized by many for her contributions to the profession.

An important mission of SPA is to provide educational opportunities to all members, students included. The SPA has a long history of awarding scholarship monies to the Washington State University (WSU) pharmacy students and providing financial support for student projects. To honor Marguerite’s commitment to patient care through the education and development of future pharmacists, the SPA established an ongoing scholarship for WSU pharmacy students. The Marguerite Villars Spokane Pharmacy Association Scholarship is endowed with donations from pharmacy professionals and was donated it to the WSU Foundation to administer and maintain so that it can be an ongoing source of support for future students.

Your contribution to this scholarship will ensure that the legacy of Marguerite Villars’ remarkable impact on the pharmacy profession in the Spokane area will live on forever through the students who receive it. For more information about opportunities to donate to this scholarship and others, please click the link to the WSU Foundation:

Marguerite Villars Spokane Pharmacy Association Scholarship Endowment.

To give by telephone, please call 509-368-6675.