A staple in our community and a bedrock of our Winchester downtown for the past 56 years has passed from this life.
Joseph (Joe) Edwin Herd, 81, of Belvidere, passed away unexpectedly on Aug. 14.
Although it will be hard to go in Blue Front Drug Store and no longer see Joe Herd’s big smile or drive by and not see his vehicle parked there, it will be easy to reflect on his legacy of a life well-lived.
Mr. Herd (as I’ve called that sweet man my whole life) was born June 6, 1938, in Wetumpka, Alabama, to the late Leonard Phillip and Lelia (Emory) Herd. He earned a Doctorate of Pharmacy degree in 1962 from Auburn University.
If you know any of the Herd family, you know they are loyal Auburn fans.
The Auburn Creed (below) was even read at Mr. Herd’s funeral. Mr. Herd steadfastly lived that creed.
In 1962, Mr. Herd was hired to be the principal pharmacist at Blue Front Drug Store, bringing with him his wife, Suzie, and their newborn daughter from Alabama to Tennessee.
Then, in 1964, Mr. Herd purchased the business, which had been established and named by Claude A. Prince Sr. and his son, Ollie Moore Prince, in 1950.
My history loving mother, Joy Gallagher, said she suggested to a writer at the Herald Chronicle in 2015 that he feature Joe Herd because not many individuals have owned and operated a business in the same place for 50 years.
She pointed out there have been businesses carried on by generations of a family, but it’s rare for one person to run the same business that long, an independent pharmacy at that.
The reporter agreed and told my mother he approached Mr. Herd, who showed absolutely no interest in such an article.
Yes, Mr. Herd preferred to let his actions do the talking. He was a humble yet dedicated servant to God, his family, his church and his community.
His life of commitment, reliability, consistency and honesty spoke to the hearts of those who knew him, as evidenced by the hundreds who turned out to wait in line outside his beloved Winchester First United Methodist Church on the hot summer afternoon of his visitation and celebration of life and resurrection service.
Such respect for the soft-spoken, servant-hearted man and his loving family was shown that day and will continue to pour forth in days to come.
Mr. Herd was a dedicated husband of 57 years, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
He poured his time and love into his community through his service at Blue Front Drug Store from which he never had intentions of retiring, according to his family.
He was a devoted member of his church, where he sang in the choir and served the Lord. On his rare days off from the pharmacy, he enjoyed tending to his flowers and working in his yard.
He will forever be remembered for his jokes, impressions, stories and love for others.
At a recent program honoring prominent residents of Winchester, a tribute was given to Mr. Herd.
“Joe never expected or sought to become the hero that he is or to still be working at 81 years old. He just did what he does: work hard, love the Lord, his family, and others and be honest and faithful to what he is committed to.
“When Joe first moved to Winchester, the square was a bustling place. Saturdays were an especially busy time when folks came from all over the countryside to go to the bank, shop and visit.
“In those days, Blue Front had a soda fountain and served ice cream too. The counter would be lined with old and young alike out for a Saturday treat while getting their prescriptions filled.
“Times have changed, but Blue Front has remained largely the same due to Joe’s commitment and high standards.
“Sure there is no soda fountain, and Saturday in downtown Winchester is a little quieter, but Blue Front is still the place where the pharmacist’s home telephone number is posted on the door in case you need anything after hours.”
Among the many tributes written lately, one story stood out because it exemplified Mr. Herd and his love for others and his community. A woman said she checked prescription prices when she moved to this area and was surprised to find the best prices at his little downtown pharmacy as opposed to the larger chains.
When she told Mr. Herd this, I can just imagine his big ole smile before he answered her, “I’m trying to make a living, not a killing.”
Mr. Herd is survived by his loving wife, Suzie Herd and their four children, Amy Herd Foster of Winchester, Joseph Phillip Herd of Belvidere, Jenny Herd Crabtree of Winchester and Suzanna Herd Scrivener of Franklin.
The Auburn Creed
“I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.
I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.
I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.
I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.
I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all.
I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.
I believe in my country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.
And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.” -George Petrie (1943)
Gina Gallagher Moore was born and raised in Franklin County, as was her husband, Kelly. They have three children and are blessed to raise them on their family farm.
She is a news-editorial journalism major who has operated Marketplace Consignment Sale for 25 years and worked part-time at Treasures. She also enjoys country cooking, reading, and writing about motherhood, life on the farm, and how God’s love and lessons surround us.