‘Dr. Joe’ still smiling in Peak after 63 years
by Natalie Netzel Staff Writer
PEAK — Hammie Joe Smith opened Peak Pharmacy in 1950 and clients still file in for their prescriptions in the small town.
Smith, known as “Dr. Joe,” came to Peak from the Lowcountry when the father and son duo of Drs. Harriet and Carroll Pinner needed a pharmacist to prescribe medicine instead of them dispensing medicine from a barrel.
Peak Pharmacy is located next to Pinner Clinic, offering clients from four counties easy accessibility. The pharmacy sits in the corner of Richland, Lexington, Newberry and Fairfield counties, which Smith describes as an unique aspect.
Smith, who is from Estill, graduated from Estill High School, which is when he decided to pursue pharmacy at the University of South Carolina.
“I thought about Newberry College and teaching English or math,” said Smith. “I chose pharmacy because it had a combination of chemistry and math and I was affluent in those.”
Smith said he was the first one in his family to go to pharmacy school, which seemed to start a trend with other family members. One daughter, Mary Jo Dyches, started working with Smith in 1986 and a grandson, Neil Fulmer, also works with him.
Smith studied at USC’s pharmacy school from October 1946 through June 1949 on a full academic scholarship.
“I graduated with 149 credits in three years and three months,” Smith said. “I had to work one year of retail before I got my license.”
Smith moved to Lancaster to work that year then decided to relocate to Peak to help out the Pinners. Carroll Pinner, his son and another doctor currently make up the team.
When Smith moved to Peak, he met and married Imogene Counts. They married in 1954 and built their house in 1957.
“She graduated from Newberry College and worked with the Department of Education,” Smith said, adding that she also retired from there.
Smith and his wife have two daughters — Dyches and Donna Jean Fulmer. Fulmer worked in the Newberry County school system. Their daughters have two children each.
Since moving to Peak, Smith has witnessed two fires there and the town has rebounded both times.
“In 1953, the town burned up. We lost everything,” said Smith
They rebuilt everything, including the drugstore and the Masonic Lodge. In 1978, lightning caused another fire. The current drugstore was rebuilt in 1979.
Smith said he isn’t bothered by chain pharmacies. He and his staff focus on every client and on serving the community.
In 1968, he was asked to be magistrate for the town. He accepted and served until 2000.
“I used to have jury trials in this office when I didn’t have time to go to the courthouse and I didn’t have any full-time pharmacists at the time,” said Smith.
Smith has plenty of awards and recognitions in his office in Peak along with plenty of memories.
He received the Order of the Palmetto in 2003 from Gov. Mark Sanford for a 50-year career as a pharmacist and for serving Newberry County and surrounding areas. Smith also contributed to the starting of the Mid-Carolina Country Club in 1968.
When he’s not keeping the records and the books for the pharmacy, he enjoys being with his family, hunting and fishing, and cheering on his alma mater. He is such a devoted fan that he was presented with a jacket and plaque at a USC vs. Missouri game. He was also named USC’s Outstanding Alumni in July 1994.
“I only missed three home games in 65 years,” Smith said, adding one of those was due to one of his hobbies. “I went on a fishing trip during a game and we lost. I said I wasn’t going to miss another one.”
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