If the name Bill Bickmore doesn’t ring a bell, Caldwell Drug probably will. Bickmore owned the pharmacy from the 1950s until the 70s.
No longer dispensing prescriptions, Bickmore turned 100 on July 1.
“It feels pretty good to turn 100,” Bickmore said. “I have the family I had when I was 99 and I appreciate that. I feel good physically and I look forward to tomorrow.”
The secret for a long life lies in practicing positivity and optimism, according to Bickmore.
“About the past: think about it often and enjoy the positive things that have happened and live positive each day,” he said. “Have an optimistic look of the future.”
Bickmore was born on July 1, 1922 in Logan. He grew up during the depression. He graduated high school in 1940, around the time World War II was about to break out.
“Everyone was concerned about the war,” Bickmore said.
Instead of going to college right away, Bickmore joined the National Guard in the spring of 1941.
“Right after I joined, our unit was activated and sent to California,” he said. “We were all up and down the California and Washington coast until the war broke out in December.”
He spent the rest of the year and into the summer of 1942 on the coast. Then he was transferred to an officer’s training camp in Oklahoma, making him an extremely young commissioned officer at 19 or 20 years old.
“It was an artillery school,” Bickmore explained. “I was there until the fall and they kept me there as an instructor in gunnery. I was the youngest officer.”
In the spring of 1944, Bickmore was transferred to a combat division in Texas and that summer, he, along with his division, went overseas to combat.
“Our division landed on a landing craft on Omaha Beach,” he said. “The beach was secure when we went in…We went through the European countries: France, Belgium, Holland, and into Germany…Until the war ended we were fighting in Germany.”
After the war ended, Bickmore made it home a few days before Christmas in 1945.
After being discharged in February 1946, Bickmore enrolled in college at Idaho State University’s pharmacy school.
“I don’t know how I became interested in pharmacy,” Bickmore said. “I knew I wanted to get away from home, so I chose Idaho State. Their pharmacy program was notorious all over the whole country, so maybe that got me into it.”
During a summer break from school he met his future wife and love of his life, Maurine.
“We got married in 1946, just before Christmas,” Bickmore said. “That was the start of the best part of my next 70 years.”
Bickmore graduated from college in three years with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.
After graduation, Bickmore and his wife moved to Washington to work. They stayed there for 10 years.
“Maurine and I then decided we wanted to come back to Utah, so we made arrangements to get a store in Logan,” Bickmore explained.
Unfortunately, the pharmacy in Logan didn’t work out but Bickmore received a job offer in Tooele.
“I came out here,” he said. “I didn’t particularly like the town but I did like the store, so I made arrangements to buy the store in 1959. I brought Maurine down here and she went home crying. She thought it was the end of the earth but we went through with it. We moved down here, rented a house here, and brought the family here. It took my wife about two weeks of living here and meeting the people until she liked it. It was such a friendly town. We really fit in and it suited us just fine.”
Soon enough Bickmore and his wife opened up their pharmacy at the store they had purchased, Caldwell Drug, located in the building where Virg’s Restaurant is today. He and Maurine quickly began to make friends, and develop good business partnerships.
During his time working at the drugstore, Bickmore often extended credit to those working in the area even when he didn’t have money to pay his supplier.
“The people paid me back and I don’t think I lost $10 dollars,” Bickmore said. “That was the kind of people who were living here.”
Bickmore operated Caldwell Drug at the location on Main Street until 1974 when he had a new location built, next to present-day Dairy Delight.
When the new location was built, Bickmore’s son, Dave, graduated from pharmacy school and began working with his father.
“From that point, Dave really took things over,” Bickmore said. “Officially in 1979, David took over the store and we decided it was time to change the name. So, we made it ‘Dave’s Drug.’”
“My dad was an idea man,” David Bickmore said. “He came up with a lot of productive stuff. Even after I took over the store, I found it best to listen to my dad’s ideas.”
After retirement, Bickmore purchased property in Tooele City and created a subdivision, gardened, played golf with his wife, and helped out with the store.
“I came out of retirement several times to help David with the pharmacy,” Bickmore laughed.
Around 2012, Dave’s Drug sold out stock to Walgreens and helped establish Birch Family Pharmacy.
Now, Bickmore enjoys watching Jazz games. His all-time favorite Jazz player is Joe Ingles.
He also enjoys spending time with his family, collects coins, and looks forward to dinner time with David and his wife, Mary Ann.
“At 100, I don’t really need a lot of hobbies,” Bickmore said.
During an interview with the Transcript Bulletin, Bickmore reflected on how Tooele has evolved since he arrived in the 50s.
“There are a lot of people who have moved in now,” Bickmore said, speaking about how things aren’t as personal anymore. “I read the obituaries in the paper and I don’t know who they are anymore.”
If Bickmore could change something about the world, he would want people to be more compassionate and friendly.
“I would do away with the clannish things that people seem to have,” he said.
“My parents always taught about right and wrong, not whether you’re Democrat or Republican,” David Bickmore elaborated.
Bickmore is known for his wise words and philosophical quotes.
“My dad had a lot of philosophical words to say to us when we were younger and we called them ‘Billisms,’” David Bickmore said. “My dad taught through those little sayings he had.”
To younger generations, Bickmore said to practice the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and be honest and fair.
“If we live that way, things can’t go wrong,” Bickmore said.