Paul Lyman served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War and had a lifelong affinity for Veterans dealing with both the visible and invisible wounds of war. After serving, Lyman became a pharmacist and opened the beloved Village Apothecary in Billerica, MA. He later opened a Village Apothecary II in his family’s hometown of Wilmington, MA. After retiring, Lyman spent years supporting his fellow Veterans at the VA Hospital in Bedford, MA. In life, he participated in the Boston University CTE Center’s HOPE Study and agreed to donate his brain to research at the VA-BU-CLF Brain Bank. He died at age 86 on October 30, 2019. His family is sharing his story to highlight Paul Lyman’s legacy of giving back to his community.
By Matthew Lyman,
Paul was born in Boston on December 12, 1932. He was raised and educated in the Charlestown neighborhood and graduated from nearby Malden Catholic High School. Paul was very proud of his Charlestown roots and was a true “townie” who maintained life-long friendships from his early years. There, he also met his best friend and true love, Ruthie Dole. They would remain married for 67 years until her passing shortly before his. This is their story, really…
In 1961 Paul and Ruthie moved “up country” to the town of Wilmington, MA as their new family was beginning to grow, and grow it did! Over their years in Wilmington, they raised a beautiful family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and were extremely close to their neighbors. Their home was the center of life for family and friends alike, where all were welcomed to just drop by or join them for their famous annual Christmas Eve bash. The “Silent Night” procession, the birthday cake, the prayers, and the laughter are never to be forgotten.
Paul was a Veteran who enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, entering into service on October 23, 1952. He was sent to the Hospital Corp School and was stationed at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Chelsea, MA. Paul proudly served his country and received the Good Conduct Medal; honorably discharged to the United States Naval Reserves where he served until October of 1960.
Prior to his military service, Paul worked as a pharmacist apprentice for the Bunker Hill Drug Company in Charlestown. After returning from the Navy, Paul used his GI Bill to further his education and earned a degree from the New England College of Pharmacy (which later became part of Northeastern University). He went on to have a long and rewarding career in pharmacy that he approached with hard work, integrity and compassion at all times.
In 1967, Paul and Ruth opened their first drug store, The Village Apothecary in Billerica, MA. A legacy was born. The Village Apothecary was a “true, old fashioned family business,” run with a huge family atmosphere and everyone was involved. For both family and friends alike, if you needed a job, Paul was quick to put you to work. He worked hard and was always professional. He also had a heart of gold and would go over and above for his customers. Paul was known to show up at a customer’s home to deliver in all kinds of weather, run an account “on the cuff” if needed, and do whatever he could to help them through a rough patch with kindness and trust. He knew most of his customers on a first name basis and they referred to him as “Doc.” Paul made everyone feel as though they were the most important person in the store. In the mid-1980’s, Paul and Ruth decided to expand their venture when their son, Chris, joined his father’s profession. They opened The Village Apothecary II in their beloved hometown of Wilmington and the legacy grew. Paul eventually retired from the stores after more than 30 successful years and went on to work at the Veteran’s Hospital in Bedford, MA.
At the VA, Paul had a soft spot in his heart for the veterans returning from active duty with injuries ranging from physical disabilities to PTSD. He worked diligently with the doctors, making rounds with them daily to help develop plans that would suit their patients’ needs. Paul would also serve as preceptor to many pharmacy students just getting started in the profession – a role that he loved. In allowing students to shadow him in his work, he enjoyed sharing his professional knowledge and thrived on hearing their perspectives in life. Through his openness and lively personality, he impacted new generations of pharmacists as they would also learn by example to understand his style of compassionate care. Not surprisingly, he received the “Preceptor of the Year” award on multiple occasions. Paul also advanced his profession through his active membership in the Massachusetts Pharmacists Association and the Boston Druggists Association.
Through the years, Paul and Ruth kept in close contact with their childhood friends, made new ones, raised their family, vacationed, and spent happy times together. Paul contributed to his community and to future generations in ways that cannot be fully stated – both in the character he passed down to his own family and that which he shared with colleagues, acquaintances and strangers alike. In this spirit, he joins with others who contribute to a legacy of research and discovery that might bring hope to countless families in the future.