The familiar voice and the familiar two-word greeting, “Henry here,” will surely be missed following the close of business on Friday, June 12. That day was the final day of employment for pharmacist Henry Thies, who retired from a career he has held for close to 40 years.
Henry started working as a pharmacist in Cut Bank when DrugMart opened in November of 1979. He was there until DrugMart closed almost five years ago. He then went to work for Osco Pharmacy and it is from there Henry retired as a well-known, local icon in the Golden Triangle area.
“I have known Henry for the last 15 years and have worked with him here at Osco Pharmacy for the last, almost five years. Henry is an excellent pharmacist and he is very compassionate towards the people we serve. I thought having been in the pharmacy world for as long as I have, there was not much else I could learn. But when Henry came to work with us at Osco, I learned a lot from him and am very grateful for all that he has done for me and for everyone else. He is truly a good man,” said Cory Poulton, Pharmacy Manager at Osco Pharmacy. “We wish him all the best in the next stage of his life, retirement and hope he comes back to visit us often.”
Henry did not always want to be a pharmacist, in fact, he didn’t know what he wanted to do following high school graduation.
“I was good with science and math in high school and ended up deciding to go to pharmacy school in Missoula. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” he said laughing.
Following college graduation, Henry moved to Cut Bank in 1979 and when DrugMart opened its doors Henry was behind the pharmacy counter and that was when he started answering the phone with the phrase we all know and love, “Henry here.”
“I guess one of the things I like the best is the interaction with all the people I have had the opportunity to work with. It is all about building relationships and I have enjoyed that. I like being able to help people,” shared Henry.
Being a pharmacist 40 years ago meant doing things the “old fashioned way,” all by hand and all manually. When Henry first started, the pharmacy had a card file with every name of every person who had come in to fill a prescription. Henry said they would document what prescription they filled on the card for that person, using a manual typewriter. The card would also identify any drug interactions, all written out or typed out on the manual typewriter.
“When we got an IBM Selectric typewriter, it was really a big change,” he proclaimed.
From typewriters to computers, to a number of pharmacy software changes, to dealing with insurance companies and new medicines, it has all meant new challenges and changes for not just Henry, but every pharmacist.
“Every change meant a new challenge. I thank Ron Campbell (at DrugMart) for introducing that store and me to computers. That was not necessarily an easy transition,” he admits.
But now, after having “mastered” all those new ideals and changes, Henry is ready for retirement. “This has been a good career for me,” he shared. “The joy has always been the people I have interacted with. And I guess the other part is, you are always learning something. I enjoyed that too. But now, it is time to retire.”
Henry does not have a lot of big plans for retirement. “I have some health issues I want to take care of and will undoubtedly find a little part-time job I would enjoy doing, but not much other than that.”
Along with having been a pharmacist for a number of years, Henry has also been a dad for 21 years to his wonderful daughter, Sarah. “Bonnie (his wife) and I have been married for 26 years and have enjoyed being parents,” he said.
Sarah, a Cut Bank High School graduate is going to be a senior in college and will finish her college education at MSU-Bozeman, majoring in agricultural education. “She loves working with animals and is working in a dairy for the summer. She loves that.”
Like her dad, Sarah is not 100 percent sure what her plans are after college. But like her dad, she will undoubtedly figure it out and begin a career that not only suits her, but one she loves as well.
“I have enjoyed watching Sarah grow up and then at times, wishing they could be young forever. I am very thankful for the one child we have. She is such a blessing to us,” he said.
Whether acting as a dad or in his professional role as a pharmacist, Henry has been happy. No doubt, he will find something in retirement that also appeals to him and adds yet another layer of happiness to his life. Let us hope that is something where he answers a phone and we can hear yet again, “Henry here.”