Sam Marshall says he didn’t always see it as a sure thing – that he’d come back to where he grew up and step into the family business of running Panguitch Drug. Nevertheless, as a young man, he did choose to take up the family profession. Following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great grandfather, he attended pharmacy school, choosing his grand-dad’s alma mater of Idaho State University to finish his pharmacy studies after completing his bachelor’s degree at Southern Utah University.
He eventually became a pharmacist, too. He was drawn back to Cedar City with his wife Lauri, where he and a good friend of his dad’s, Evan Vickers, whom Sam had worked with at Bulloch’s Drugs during his undergrad years at SUU, opened up Township Pharmacy just outside of Valley View Medical Center. Sam worked with and helped build that business for a dozen years.
Meanwhile, Sam’s dad, Steve Marshall, has served as Garfield County’s pharmacist long enough to see babies who were born at the start of his career grow well into the middle age. Steve took over the pharmacy from his own father, Monte, around 1970, and after many years of operating at the original Panguitch Drug location on Main Street, he had the idea to move and expand the store to their current site around the corner on Center Street, a process he says he painstakingly planned and designed over the course of 10 years including the architectural elements borrowed from many styles native to Utah.
“The fronts came from buildings in Parowan, Cedar City, and of course Oruay, Colorado, Spring City and Park City. The arched windows came from the design of the LDS tabernacle that was on this site,” he said. “The old North Ward church sat right where this building was, I got baptized right about where we are sitting.”
Steve opened up the new store in 1998. It was just as Steve began to think it might be time to pass the business on to other hands, that Sam warmed to the idea of coming home and taking over the family drug store. So, this past July, Sam Marshall moved with his family from Cedar City back to Panguitch.
Sam describes his decision as a desire to come home and reconnect with his rural roots. “For me it was, I think no matter where you live it doesn’t feel like home unless you’re back where home was. If your home was in a rural area, nowhere else feels like home. We liked Cedar City but we are glad to be in Panguitch. We love it because the community is so tight knit, and my kids have a greater sense of freedom being in a small town,” he said.
Now that he is back and in charge of Panguitch drug full time, it seems to fit him like a glove.
During a recent afternoon conversation at the pharmacy with Steve, Sam, and Sam’s sister Annie, the three Marshall family members talked about the history of the family business, the current transition to the fourth generation of Marshall’s and horse racing. Steve shared his excitement about retiring after 43 years and was clearly proud of the talents that his son Sam brings to the business.
“The reason he is popular is he has skills with people, he spends time listening to them and helping them with their needs, said Steve. “In fact right after he moved over here we had a bunch of ladies from Cedar City that called me on the carpet and said they didn’t approve of me bringing him over to
Panguitch,” he said. “Sam’s knowledge of therapeutics is also way beyond mine,” he said, referring to the way drugs are used in treating various disorders.
“In a rural area like this we have a great ability to affect people at a personal level, he added. “You see these people at church, at basketball games. Things are so much more personal.”
Steve acknowledged that for Sam to take on the business he was going to have to learn to run a huge variety of things. “It overwhelms most dependent pharmacists, all the different aspects of running multiple parts of a store.”
Panguitch Drug in many respects is more than one store, including the Radio Shack, the Cowboy Store, and the floor includes a wide variety of departments and 23 staff that keep the whole thing humming.
Noting the changes too, that have taken place in pharmacy over time, Steve adds, “My grandpa said this was back in compounding days, that in 1960, he had 13 prescriptions in one day and it nearly killed him. Nowadays we average 200 prescriptions a day which is typical for independents like us. For pharmacists these days, too, there is a lot of emphasis on medical therapy management, and certification in specialized areas like diabetes care.
There is a lot of information to follow and the state has requirements for continuing education. And pharmacists are the experts in medical products. And they have moved into other areas of healthcare, such as doing immunizations, which just a generation ago was entirely the territory of physicians and nurses. We do 500 immunizations per year, flu shots, tetanus shots, shingles, pneumonia shots said Steve.”
Panguitch Drug is one of the oldest family run businesses in Utah, and, according to the Marshall’s the oldest family pharmacy in the state. Sam’s great grandfather, Earl Marshall, started the business of January 1916. Steve describes the history. There already was a Panguitch Drug when grandpa Earl came to town. It was owned by a Mr. Carhart, and it had been around since 1897. My grandfather came from a group of guys that were cowboys, he was a short guy and he had a lot of Shetlands. When the Hatchtown dam washed out everybody from Hatch down the Sevier River to Circleville, there were a lot of farmers that got up and left to go to Idaho. It washed out everything, ruined all their fields, wiped out the whole economy. My grandpas dad gave him a 50 dollar gold piece and put him on the train and sent him to California. He stayed there for three years and finished Pharmaceutical Chemistry degree at the University of Southern California. When my grandpa Earl came back he started his own pharmacy called Elk pharmacy, and it was just a few years after that he bought out Mr. Carhart. And that is how the family acquired Panguitch Drug. According to Sam, his grandfather Monte, Earl’s Son, is the one who brought horse racing into the family. He sort of ran away from home at the age of 15 and was riding racehorses around the western U.S., said Sam.
Annie Anderson, Sam’s sister, filled in a few of the horse racing-related details wishing right off that grandma, Cleo Tebbs Marshall, could be present to get her two cents into the story. “Grandma always said that the things that defined her and grandpa Monte’s life were the drug store and horse racing. Just about everybody in the family was a jockey. Sam did a little jockeying. Horse racing was an escape from the drug store,” she said.
Annie also joked, “One thing…Sam is by far the tallest Marshall pharmacist. They got progressively taller over the years,” she said.
Steve said that he is currently working on a history of paramutal horse racing in Utah. He said he did jockeying himself for 5 years. “Wages were 65 cents, 75 cents an hour and I could make a lot more on the weekends. I started out being a hot walker. Progressed to galloping horses and by about age 15 I got to ride a few races.”
Steve went to the basement of the store and brought up a whole box of horse racing photos and memorabilia. “I’ve got pictures of racehorses going back into the 1920’s. Probably 1,500 pictures scanned so far and the whole project, it’s grown so far out,” he said.
The family interest in horses led both Steve and Sam to have an interest in veterinary medicine, though both stuck with pharmacy.
Nowadays, Sam is running the store and Steve works a couple days a week during the completion of the transition. Sam has a tendency to say, “My dad works for me.” Which doesn’t seem to bother Steve at all.
When asked how he feels about retirement, Steve says, “The sooner the better. My heart was really in this, this is our family, this is who we are and I really had a hard time, a really hard time, thinking of it being something else. The sooner I retire the better. It’s better for Sam, it’s better for me. The transitions of all but done.”
“It’s been fun for me to work with my dad a bit, “ said Sam. “A lot of people don’t get to do that.
“I was initially a little nervous about the Panguitch store,” he continues, “because we don’t do the numbers here that we did in Cedar in terms of volume. It makes it harder for us to compete because of the rural nature of Garfield County. Bu I think we’ll have some growth over the next few years. We do so many prescriptions from mail order, we do mail prescriptions for free, we don’t charge people postage. We mail a lot of prescriptions to Escalante, Circleville, Tropic and all over.”
“I think we have a good relationship with the physicians in town. Since we’re right here it is easier for us to work with medical staff and patients. Having a good relationship with our patients and with medical staff makes a difference in an individual’s care,” said Sam.
Right now, Sam says he doesn’t have any immediate plans for big changes to the store, other than to mention that they are expanding their Carhartt clothing line in the Cowboy Store. And of course, there are the seasonal product changes such as the current assortment of decorated ornaments and holiday décor.
“We also love supporting the community, we try to do everything we can o support all of the schools, the different programs they have, and I want to continue those things,” said Sam. “I’m excited we will celebrate 100 years in a couple years. That’s coming up pretty