After a century of combined service at Family Drug in Brownstown, two sisters are retiring at the end of this year.
Born and raised in Brownstown, Beth Kellermeier, 64, and Susie Holle, 69, will hang up their pharmaceutical smocks and enjoy the extra time with their friends and families.
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“Our last day is officially Dec. 31, but we’re going to keep our licenses up so when someone goes on vacation here, we can fill in,” Kellermeier said. “Susie will be working one day a week.”
Both sisters attended St. Peter’s Lutheran School, and then graduated from Brownstown Central High School. They have a brother, Tom Lubker, who is a retired truck driver.
Their parents were Howard and Blanche Lubker of Brownstown. Howard worked for the highway department, and Blanche worked at the post office, First National Bank and The Peoples Bank.
Kellermeier has been with Family Drug for 45 years and Holle for 55 years. Both sisters are currently employed as pharmacy technicians.
Scott Butt has been manager of Family Drug since his father, Jim Butt, retired in 2009. He is the third generation in his family to run the business.
“I’m 51 now, so I’ve known Beth and Susie all of my life,” Butt said. “I thought it was newsworthy that two sisters who had 100 years of combined service with our store were both going to be retiring.”
As to what he will miss the most about the sisters, Butt said his grandfather always said their store was a great place to raise a family, and that’s what Kellermeier and Holle are — they are family, and they will be missed.
“They are awesome ladies,” Butt said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have them with us.”
Before Holle was employed at Family Drug, she worked at her grandfather’s roadside stand. Orville and Lottie Lubker owned Lubker’s Walnut Grove Farm, and their melon market was located adjacent to their home on U.S. 50, just east of Brownstown.
“Our grandfather had Lubker’s melon stand, and I worked there in the field and helped sell watermelons, too,” Holle said. “Then the rest of the time, I’ve worked here and at the Frost Top.”
The Frost Top was a drive-in restaurant where the carhops would bring the food out on a tray and attach it to the patron’s windshield. It was similar to what you’d see on the TV show “Happy Days,” Kellermeier said.
“That’s how I first met Sally and Jerry,” Holle said. “She saw me there and knew I had a sister and asked if we’d want to work at the drug store. The first person we started with was Sally Banks at Brownstown Pharmacy.”
Banks was Scott Butt’s aunt, and she has since passed away. She was like a second mother to Holle and Kellermeier. The two sisters babysat Sally and Jerry Banks’ boys and watched them grow up, and then watched their kids grow up, Kellermeier said.
Both sisters said along with enjoying the free time they will have, they also look forward to spending more time with their grandchildren after retirement. Kellermeier has five grandchildren, and Holle has 12.
“I have one that’s going to be a senior, and the other will be a freshman, and both are in sports,” Kellermeier said. “Then there’s a 7- and a 4-year-old, and then one that’ll soon turn 1 on my birthday next month. I look forward to keeping them and watching their sports during the summer.”
Holle hopes to attend more of her grandchildren’s sporting events and just spending more time with them — six boys and six girls.
“My daughter, Lori, has a son that’ll be a freshman in Jennings County. My youngest daughter, Leigh, has eight children, ranging from 6 to 19,” Holle said. “Then my son, Brad, has three, and they are also ages 6 through 19.”
Kellermeier met her husband, Gary Kellermeier, through the Lutheran school they both attended.
“We knew each other’s families growing up, and we were married in December 1973, so it’s been 43 years now,” she said. “We have two sons, Zach and Jared, who both live in Brownstown.”
Gary Kellermeier is retired from Accu-Air Surveys at Freeman Field in Seymour. After suffering a heart attack, he had to go into early retirement. The company specializes in aerial photography and photogrammetry.
Holle and her husband, Allan Holle, were married in April 1966 and reside in Seymour. He graduated from Seymour High School and is retired from Cummins.
“We have three children, Lori, Brad and Leigh,” she said. “Lori’s in Hayden, Brad lives in Seymour and Leigh is up on the northeast side of Indianapolis.”
One of Holle and Kellermeier’s favorite things about working at Family Drug also is the same thing they will miss the most — the people. They both agree that the entire staff along with the customers have been enjoyable to work with and have been good to them through the years.
Kellermeier started at Brownstown Pharmacy in 1966 when she was in the eighth grade, and Holle was hired when she was about to become a freshman in high school. Both sisters began their employment there as soda jerks.
“The pharmacy was located downtown where Blondie’s is now in Brownstown,” Kellermeier said. “They had a soda fountain there, kind of like what Bevers Family Pharmacy had in Seymour.”
There also was another drug store, Twin Town Drugs, in Ewing, owned by the same family as Brownstown Pharmacy. The sisters switched off working between the two stores, with Kellermeier spending most of her time at the Ewing store while Holle was in Brownstown before the two stores combined in 1991.
“I remember after school when everybody went to the pharmacy and it was packed. You had to rush down there before the kids so you could get a parking spot so you could serve them,” Kellermeier said. “It was standing room only when the kids came in, and it was the place to hang out.”
The sisters reminisced about how things at the pharmacy had changed over the years, such as insurance requirements, and they also recalled some unusual events that had taken place that stuck out in their minds.
One event was when Kellermeier worked with Jim Butt, the pharmacist at the time, back when the store had a liquor license. One day, they had a shoplifter that took a bottle of whiskey and had it under his coat.
“I’ll never forget when they walked through the door and they split up. I knew they were trouble,” Kellermeier said. “Jim went after one guy and tackled him to the floor in a bear hug. When the town marshal got there, he looked down at Jim and asked if he had a problem. It was so comical, like an Andy Griffith episode.”
Holle also recalled a story from the time she worked uptown at Brownstown Pharmacy.
“I was working with the pharmacist, Elba Miranda, and saw a guy come in and go back by the magazines and stick something under his shirt,” she said. “I told Poke, and he came over with his flyswatter and asked the guy, ‘You got something under there that’s not supposed to be there? I think you’d better put it back,’ and he did.”
Sales associate Debbie Lynch has been training with Holle so she can take over her responsibilities after she leaves. Lynch worked with the sisters at Brownstown Pharmacy when they served as soda jerks. Lynch left to pursue other interests but came back to Family Drug family two years ago.
“Susie has been taking me with her and training me at the nursing homes and visiting shut-ins,” Lynch said. “Susie is such a caring person. They both are.”
Both sisters agree that Family Drug truly is a family to them, and that’s why it’s going to be hard to leave.
“I like my employers, and I enjoy working with the kids,” Holle said, referring to the younger staff members in the pharmacy. “Beth and I are basically the same in saying that we’ll miss everyone and being out in the public meeting people. It’s been a pleasure working here.”
What: Retirement reception for Susie Holle and Beth Kellermeier
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 28
Where: Family Drug, 810 W. Commerce St., Brownstown
Who: Open to the public