NEWBERRY — Every year the Newberry County Memorial Hospital awards one individual the Jake and Mildred Fulmer Humanitarian of the Year Award and this year’s recipient is Hammie Joe “Dr. Joe” Smith of Peak.
Smith was born in Jasper County and graduated from Estill High School in 1945. He graduated from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy in 1949 and in 1950, he opened Peak Pharmacy, which he still owns and operates to this day.
“This person follows the philosophy that Jake and Mildred had of helping the community of Newberry, and individuals, and not getting credit for it,” said Dr. Alan Paysinger, chairman of the board.
Smith was founding member of the Mid-Carolina Country Club in 1968, served as Newberry County magistrate from 1969 until his retirement in 2008, was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow award from the Rotary Club, was awarded the Melvin Jones Fellow award from the Lion’s Club and received the South Carolina Pharmacy Association Bowl of Hygeia Community Service Award.
He also received the Governor’s Order of the Palmetto award in 2003 (the highest civilian award in South Carolina) and in 2013 established the H. Joe and Imogene Smith Endowed Scholarship for the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
Each year NCMH presents this award as a surprise to the recipient. Smith’s daughter, Mary Jo Dyches, assisted this year by telling him there was an event at the hospital that involved pharmacists. Dyches said it was hard to get him to NCMH without him knowing, because he is still pretty sharp.
“This is a surprise to me. I feel honored and I feel great and I appreciate this award very much,” Smith said. “I am honored, I feel very much honored somebody would think of me. Like I say I have worked hard for Newberry County, in fact I started the first Development Board around here in 1950. We met at the old Wiseman Hotel. I have been in Newberry County ever since that time.”
Smith added that he loves Newberry County, and has enjoyed supporting the county for a long time.
“I have run the drug store for 66 years, I have made so many friends, I cannot remember all their names, but I have made a lot of friends,” he said.
John Pugh, a member of the Board of Trustees and a pharmacist himself, said it was humbling to see Smith recognized.
“I am proud for him. He is a mentor of mine. Just a pillar of this community and I am really proud of him,” he said.
Bruce Baldwin, CEO of NCMH, said it was an honor to see Smith receive the award.
“We just thank the family for their contributions and are grateful to have such wonderful people in our community,” he said.
Smith is married to Imogene Counts and together they have two daughters, Dyches and Donna Jean Fulmer. They also have four grandchildren: Neil Fulmer, Kim Stoudemire, Mary Margaret Dyches and Joanna Dyches and two great grandchild-re; Nathan Fulmer and Landon Stoudemire.
The Fulmer Humanitarian Award is awarded in honor of Jake and Mildred Fulmer. In 2008 the hospital received a $2,25 million bequest from the estates of Jake and Mildred Fulmer.
The Board of Trustees chose several ways to honor this gift: The hospital’s surgery area was named for the couple with appropriate signage, the surgery waiting room features memorabilia from the couples’ lives and the Fulmer Humanitarian Award was started.
Past recipients include Jimmie Coggins, Donnie Layton, Joe Trainor, Tensie Stone, Jennylee Foster, Willie Morris and Margaret Brackett.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.