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 retail 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 that time, working overtime for little or no additional pay was a given, and it also expected that, if needed, medications would be delivered by the pharmacist after hours and at their expense.

After she was appointed as Director of Pharmacy at St Luke’s Hospital, her business background came in handy as she was to do the procurement and other business aspects as well as direct the pharmacy operations. She was also 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 Lukes, and developed some innovative programs. She was an early adopter of computers, and 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 Lukes may be small, but were going to be the best”. The philosophy that Marguerite shared with the many students that she precepted was that “this is a profession that is always changing – and change is good”. She felt that the pharmacist connected the patient and the doctor and that this was a valuable service to both parties. WSU made her an associate faculty member and the WSU students have “adopted” her (despite the UW background) due to her dedication to the profession and her interest in helping them succeed.

Marguerite’s legacy to the pharmacy community in Spokane is outstanding both in her length of service and her sphere of influence. She has not only been a part of the professional changes in both retail and hospital institutions in her 50+ year career, but has helped to create those changes. Students who learned from her and staff who worked with her had exceptional experiences. She served both pharmacy associations (an officer of SPA for over 65 years), she is committed to community service in various other arenas, and has provided professional support to pharmacists and students at every opportunity.

Marguerite Villars Spokane Pharmacy Association Endowed Scholarship

The Spokane Pharmacy Association (SPA) has been a presence in the Spokane area since the 1920’s. 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 organization. Since she joined SPA in 1950 as an associate member, she has been an active member for over 64 years, including service as President and over 50 years as Secretary/Treasurer. At her practice site at the then St Luke’s Hospital, and through SPA activities, Marguerite helped the practice of clinical pharmacy to evolve and become incorporated into the greater pharmacy community. At 91 years of age, Marguerite still attends many SPA functions and is recognized by the members and new students for her contributions to the profession.

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

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 that the scholarships enables to become the future pharmacists of our profession. For more information about opportunities to donate to this scholarship and others, please click the link to WSU:

Marguerite Villars Spokane Pharmacy Association Scholarship Endowment.

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

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