“STAN THE MAN.” So read the words in the center of a photographic display on a table at the Forks Rainforest Arts Center.
The photos gave visual depth to Stan Peterson as a husband, father, outdoorsman and pharmacist Saturday at his retirement party.
Peterson retired Dec. 31, 2016, from Chinook Pharmacy on the corner of Forks Avenue and Division Street.
Peterson and his wife, Linda, founded Chinook in 1979, three years after he graduated from Washington State University’s pharmacy school.
He stuck around Pullman for two years, working at Corner Drug until Linda graduated as a pharmacist, too.
After the couple returned to their hometown of Forks, Linda worked at Forks Community Hospital while Stan worked to get Chinook Pharmacy up and running.
Stan’s family tree goes back five generations in Forks’ history, while Linda’s goes back four.
Stan’s grandparents were Oscar and Minnie Peterson, two admired Olympic wilderness adventurers.
“We didn’t take anything out of the pharmacy for the first three years,” Peterson recalled.
“We just lived off Linda’s salary.”
At one point in time, Chinook was the pharmacy for the Makah tribe, the Quileute tribes, the nursing home and both prisons in the West End.
The Petersons were in their mid-to-late 20s when their pharmacy really began taking off.
They raised two sons, Nels and Jordan.
Both boys earned engineering degrees.
Today, Nels lives in Gig Harbor, while Jordan lives in Billings, Mont.
While the Peterson boys were at home, Chuck Carlson came to work at Chinook in 1997 right out of the University of Washington’s pharmacy school.
Carlson took on more responsibility and hours so that Stan could help parent the teens.
In 2007, Carlson and his wife, Pura, bought Chinook Pharmacy.
The Petersons stayed on as employees in part to ease the transition.
“I wouldn’t have done it without Stan,” Carlson said.
“He is very fatherly and walked me through business in a small town.”
Carlson says Peterson passed on a successful business philosophy that is outwardly focused on the community.
“We deliver and try to give that personal touch sometimes, even raking leaves or stacking firewood for our customers,” Carlson said.
Stan helped him step back from escalating situations and to see things from the customer’s point of view, to be patient and see the bigger picture.
“Stan has been good behind the scenes for the community,” Carlson added.
“You can’t say enough good things about him.
“I’ll miss his little laugh.”
I caught up with Linda as she was preparing the arts center for Stan’s retirement party.
She was bouncing back and forth between friends, helping with the catering and the decorating.
She gave ideas and listened carefully as other possibilities were bounced around.
“Stan thinks this party is a little silly, but he’s letting me do it,” she said, adding that her husband shies from the limelight.
“He has been a very good husband to the entire community.
“I wanted him to be honored for his long-term commitment to the community.”
Linda said she feels blessed to be in a place where a mom-and-pop business could succeed.
Darcy Riggan worked with Stan for more than 13 years as a pharmacy technician.
“I really don’t have any words, I have emotions,” she said of Peterson’s retirement.
She described Stan as a “human cooler” for his outstanding ability to diffuse situations with insight and humor.
“We go to Stan for everything because he is like the patriarch of the pharmacy,” Riggan said.
Folks came from far away to join this small community in celebrating Peterson.
The arts center was decorated with strands of twinkle lights shining from inside clean used prescription bottles.
Food was elegantly displayed in glass and ceramic dishes.
Guests wore skirts, dress shirts and happy smiles.
Peterson’s kind brown eyes made contact with every single person as he welcomed them and shared a generous dose of joy.
As for future plans, the Petersons have rental property on the Hoh River that Stan wants to give attention to, and they have timberland he wants to more actively manage.
Linda also said he is looking forward to spending more time outdoors.
Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.
Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorina [email protected], or phone her at 360-327-3702. West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.
Her next column will be Jan. 24.