The Tri-Cities' only free clinic for the uninsured has a strong pharmacy program -- and that's thanks in no small part to MaryBeth Arnold.
The 67-year-old Pasco woman, whose career as a pharmacist spanned more than 40 years, spent thousands of hours at Grace Clinic in Kennewick as a volunteer.
Along with Connie Skavdahl, she was co-team leader of the pharmacy. She recruited other pharmacists to volunteer, started programs at the clinic and even gave up part of her garage to be used as clinic storage.
"She was so dedicated and knowledgeable, and really proud of having a good pharmacy and a great clinic here so that we could serve the people who need us," said Jean Murrow, clinic director. "MaryBeth was an integral part of Grace Clinic. There's no other way to say it."
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Arnold died earlier in August after a stroke. A memorial service is planned Aug. 23.
Grace Clinic made its debut in 2002, and Arnold soon joined the team. A Christian, her faith was at the center of her life and her drive to help others, said her daughter, Alicia Evans.
Arnold was born in Ohio and attended college and pharmacy school there. She eventually grew tired of the cold winters and made her way to Las Vegas, where she had a pharmacy on the strip for several years.
After a divorce, she and her daughter moved to Olympia. "We basically just drove until we found a town she liked," Alicia Evans recalled with a laugh.
She said her mom was "incredibly strong," noting, "she raised me by herself."
Evans met her husband, David, while attending Washington State University. They settled in the Tri-Cities, and Arnold fell in love with the area too.
She was a doting grandmother to their two kids, Zeb, 10, and Abi, 7.
Arnold's volunteer work wasn't limited to Grace Clinic. She also participated in medical mission trips. And she was quick to help a friend.
When mother and daughter first moved to Washington, Arnold briefly worked as a waitress while she was waiting for her pharmacy license to transfer. She befriended a co-worker, giving the woman and her child a place to stay when they fell on hard times, Evans said.
Friends described Arnold as warm and giving.
At Grace Clinic, "she was always trying to do the best thing for the patients -- looking into new programs, finding ways to get medications for the clinic. She was very much a passionate patient advocate," said Dr. Jeanne Berretta, a longtime Grace Clinic volunteer and the former medical director. "She's going to be missed. She was a very special, very talented woman."
Evans said her mother's work at Grace Clinic "was a way she could help out on a day-to-day basis. She loved doing medical missions, but this was something she could do to help her community here, where people really needed it."
Losing her mom has been so hard, Evans said.
But their love was strong. "We were so close and I have no regrets," the daughter said. "Every day -- and many times a day -- it was, 'Hey mom, I love you.' 'Hey Alicia, I love you.' All the time."
Arnold's memorial service is 2 p.m. Aug. 23 at Pasco Christian Church, 1524 W. Marie St.
-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; email@example.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald