Pharmacist who covered for those who couldn’t pay dies in Duluth

Today’s Duluth News Tribune story on the death of Don Pasek, 88, is an additional reminder of what we’ve lost in the chain-store world. Locality and community identities.

Pasek was the last remaining independent pharmacist in Duluth when he retired seven years ago. Independent pharmacies have been swept away by the Walgreens, Targets, and CVS’s of the world. We’re worse off for not having supported local businesses when we had the chance.

“He worked practically day and night. I sometimes never saw him at home until 10, 12, 1 o’clock and anytime he had to deliver to his people, he would deliver it if it was 11 o’clock at night or if it was a snowstorm or whatever it was. He’d be taking his Blazer and he’d take off, ‘I’ve got to go bring this up to Viewcrest,’ ‘I’ve got to bring it down to Park Point’ and he did it,” his wife, Judy, tells the newspaper.

“He was very devoted to his pharmacy work and helping people out. He loved to go and loved to help them out,” she said, adding, “His goal in life was to do that work and that’s what he did. We couldn’t get him out of there, we just could not.”

He was willing to help people when they were going through a hard time and couldn’t afford their prescription, she said, recalling that he would write down an IOU on a piece of paper and didn’t mind if he never received the payment.

He was a polka guy. Played it. Sold it at his store. Provided it to a local radio station.

He sponsored the Old Time Dancing Party on WDSM. That’s the sort of thing local businesses used to do back in the day, too.

That show is gone now. Most of the station’s programming is out-of-market talk hosts.