OPINION | WOODY BASSETT: Carl Collier still serving doses of compassion, friendliness

Collier casts compassion around community

Deeply embedded in the fabric of the community, Collier Drug Store has been a fixture on Fayetteville's Dickson Street for decades, serving as both an anchor and landmark for the city's most iconic street.

The drug store at 100 W. Dickson is a Fayetteville institution. And to many, so is Carl Collier -- not only because of his long, extraordinary career as a pharmacist but also because of who he is as a person, the way he treats others and the countless acts of kindness he has bestowed upon people.

Collier is a leading citizen and a persuasive voice in the city he loves. It seems he knows just about everyone and just about everyone in these parts seems to know him. Even if you only refer to him by his first name, most people will instantly know who you are talking about. The man definitely gets around.

A very knowledgeable and highly accomplished pharmacist, Collier has been among the best of the best at what he does throughout his career, recently evidenced again when he received this year's Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Pharmacists Association.

Energetic and always in motion, Collier is an efficient, tireless druggist. For years, his patients and customers have greatly benefited from his pharmaceutical expertise. Moreover, an encounter with Collier at the drug store leaves one feeling uplifted by his warm greeting, consistent positivity and unbridled optimism. Even if you are sick or hurting, you leave the store feeling better than when you arrived.

Blessed with an engaging personality, Collier's friendliness and cheerfulness are always on display. He's quick-witted and possesses a finely tuned sense of humor, which he employs to great advantage. When people cross paths with Collier, they are likely to get a refreshing dose of his wisdom, genuineness, integrity and compassion for others. Be assured a conversation with him is time well spent.

Born and raised in Fayetteville, Collier grew up working in his family's drug store. His first job as a youngster was as a soda jerk in the store's soda fountain in 1951. After obtaining his pharmacy degree in 1964, he joined his brother and their father in the family business. Collier later took over as head of the family's pharmacy company in 1971. Under his leadership, Collier Drug Stores continued to grow and prosper, becoming an even bigger hub of activity on Dickson Street, serving the pharmaceutical needs of many people on a daily basis.

Collier's son, Mel, joined the company full time in 1994. He rose to the position of operations manager in 1998 and nine years later became the sole owner of Collier Drug Stores. With the instrumental help of many excellent employees over the years, the Collier family has successfully grown the business by expanding into new locations around Northwest Arkansas, while still maintaining the same down-home feel their customers love. Family-owned since 1917, it's now the largest privately owned drug store chain in Northwest Arkansas, known and respected statewide.

Recently turning 81, Collier is ageless, still looking far younger than arithmetic would normally suggest and still standing ramrod straight with perfect posture to go along with his still perfect temperament. He has been semi-retired since 2007 but continues to work a lot of hours at the pharmacy and out in the community.

During the course of the pandemic, Collier has stepped up in a big way. No telling how many covid vaccinations and booster shots he has personally given but it's a huge number. A superb shot-giver, Collier is a maestro when wielding the needle.

Collier has always been generous with his time and resources to make Fayetteville and surrounding communities better in a myriad of ways, particularly in the field of health care. Fittingly, in 2010 he received the Eagle Award from the Washington Regional Foundation for his fervent commitment to improving area health care and for fostering the advancement of public health in Northwest Arkansas.

Collier's instinctive knack for providing comfort and lifting the spirits of others, especially the sick and elderly, is a true gift. He has just the right human touch with those who are hurting or battling a serious disease. It's noteworthy, too, that Collier has long been a key difference-maker for area hospice services, often becoming a compassionate friend to hospice patients.

Reliable and willing to help, Collier is always there for people in need. He was sure there for my parents in the latter stages of their lives, just as he has been for so many other families over the years. During his career, Collier has made plenty of house calls, often rising from bed in the middle of the night to fill an emergency prescription for a patient in acute distress.

Carl Collier is the real deal. He sets a fine example for all of us.

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