The Tri-Cities is losing something unique in this day of chain stores -- an owner-owned and operated pharmacy.
Cork's Pharmacy, which has been across the street from Kennewick General Hospital since 1964, will close Tuesday.
Owner David R. Alme is retiring due to declining health, according to an Aug. 15 advertisement in the Herald. All records will be transferred to Kennewick Walgreens pharmacies.
"This has been a difficult letter to write for a number of reasons," Alme wrote in the advertisement. "The first and foremost are the wonderful customer base we have enjoyed for over 20 years, along with our employees. What a wonderful gift!
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"It has now become time for me to close the pharmacy and retire. My health has not been the best the past number of months, and does not look to improve."
Debbie Anderson, who has worked at Cork's for more than 17 years as a bookkeeper and clerk, choked up with emotion as she talked about the close bond between Alme and his employees.
"I'm one of the newcomers," Anderson said. "There are two others who were hired after me and they've been here about 15 and 12 years. I think that says something very highly about our boss. Tuesday is going to be a very sad day for all of us and all of David's customers."
Cork's was founded by Robert M. "Cork" Simmelink, who spent 40 years dispensing medicine to Tri-Citians. He hired Alme in 1973 as a pharmacist, offered him a partnership 10 years later, and left the business to him when he retired in 1990.
Simmelink died in 1996 at the age of 68 of a brain tumor.
Alme first worked at Fisher's Pharmacy in Kennewick, which was owned by Dick Shannon, for seven years before joining Simmelink at Cork's Pharmacy.
In his ad, Alme closed by writing: "We'll certainly miss seeing you ... thank you so much for your loyal patronage throughout the years."
At Alme's request, some employees have contacted the East Benton County Historical Museum in Kennewick and offered to donate some large panoramic photos of Kennewick from the 1950s and 1970s that hang in the pharmacy, Anderson said.
"We also have some photos of Cork, some old crutches and other things that David wanted the museum to have," she said.
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