Riley-White a composite of community service, history
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

The name Riley-White is so familiar to Logan Countians that it has become a part of our everyday vocabulary. Yet it is not only the source of countless community services, but it is also a composite of community history.

Riley-White is a combination pharmacy, jewelry store, gift shop and medical supplies distributor. And, yet, it is more.

The Riley-White Pharmacy can trace its roots to at least six drug stores which have played important roles in Logan County communities over the years. Additionally a number of familiar businesses were housed in what is now Riley-White on the northwest quadrant of the Russellville Public Square.

On Jan. 1, 1959, Carroll Riley—a graduate of Russellville High School and the University of Kentucky School of Pharmacy—purchased Eagle Drug Company from businessman Charlie Bowles, who had bought it from Ed and Helen Katterjohn. Riley had begun working there the previous summer. It was located on the southeast side of the square.

Jerry White—also a graduate of RHS and UK Pharmacy—had been serving in the Air Force in the medical mobility division, helping put together field hospitals to be used in Vietnam. When White returned home, he bought a half interest in Riley Drugs in 1965; they changed the name to Riley-White Drugs. The partners looked for a larger location and were able to rent a portion of their current site from the Ryan heirs. Edna Earle Croslin's Hat Shop, Estalene Longhofer's beauty shop, Jack Smith's barber shop and Virginia Edwards' insurance office had been there. “I knew the basement well,” recalls Jerry, who grew up working in the trucking business owned by his dad, the late Boyd White. “Part of my dad's business was selling coal, and one of my jobs as a boy was to deliver coal to that cellar.”

The western part of the building was still being used by Arley and Barbara Smith for their Ben Franklin business, which was more than a 10-cent store and much more personal than the chain discount stores which followed. The site had previously been the location of Russellville's Kroger store, before manager Alvis Oakley moved Kroger over to the building which is now the home of Crabtree Furniture. “I bagged groceries at Kroger. That was one of my jobs, too,” says White, who has been no stranger to work all of his life.

In 1967, Riley-White purchased Russellville's Howard Pharmacy from Bob Howard. Then came the acquisition of Adairville Drugs—owned by Fred Harris of Springfield and operated by pharmacist Ray McKinney—in 1986. The following year, Russellville's oldest pharmacy, Perry's Drug Store, was bought from David Hancock, who had acquired it from Jack Carver, and Riley White bought Auburn Drugs from Jimmy and Jessie Duer in 1988. Perry's Drug Store had been in Russellville for 150 years, beginning in 1837. The Katterjohns had operated Eagle Drug Store since 1922. Henry Aull opened Aull & Co. in Auburn in 1885. The name was changed to Auburn Drugs in 1947, and Jimmy Duer, who died recently, had owned it since 1965. Ray McKinney had been the pharmacist in Adairville since 1954.

Eagle Drug Store, Riley Drug Store, The Howard Pharmacy, Perry's Drug Store, Adairville Drugs and Auburn Drugs all are part of the history that makes Riley-White such an integral piece of the Logan County culture and economy.

Another key acquisition for Riley-White was the purchase of the Settle-Evans Jewelry in March 1969. It had been located on the Southeast quadrant of the Square near Eagle Drugs and the Howard Pharmacy. The business was founded in 1867 by Ben Settle. For many years it was operated by his relative, Miss Jessie Settle. After her death in 1960, it was owned by her nephew's widow, Allean Evans, and their grown children, Dorothy Knotts, Bebe Knox and Col. Byrne Evans Jr. With that acquisition, Riley-White not only became a quality jewelry store but had the nucleus of its gift department.

In 1976, Riley-White expanded into the entire building. The Smiths moved the Ben Franklin store across the parking lot into what is now Crabtree Furniture. Kroger had left Russellville in 1972 and the building had been an IGA grocery until Ben Franklin replaced it. Ben Franklin remained in Russellville for 29 years before closing in 1984.

Donnie Riley, the son of Carroll and Glennie Riley and also a graduate of RHS and the UK School of Pharmacy, became a partner in Riley White, Inc. in 1982. That corporation bought Forgy Drugs in Morgantown and operated it as Riley-White Drugs #2 until 1989. It was also the corporation that bought and operated the Adairville store. The entire business is now part of Riley White, Inc.

In 1993, Riley-White's pharmacists and some of the staff received training in Home Infusions, which allowed them to open another part of the business, administering IV's and pain medication. The staff also has specialized training in diabetes care, immunizations, anti-coagulation therapy, women's health and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, medication therapy management, and compounding. Riley-White also offers an accredited home medical equipment department with a respiratory therapist on staff. The company provides delivery and home setup of medical equipment.

In 1992, Riley-White purchased the Graves Gilbert Clinic Pharmacy in one of Bowling Green's largest medical offices, which is across the street from the Medical Center. Donnie Riley, Carroll's son and another RHS/UK graduate, is the pharmacist there, although he lives in Russellville.

Riley-White had purchased the building from the Ryan Heirs, and in 2004 they were able to buy the parking lot and the 20,000 square foot structure that had been the home of Kroger, IGA, Ben Franklin, Dollar General and now Crabtree. That enabled the company to add a drive-through in the parking lot to their services. Now customers can pick up their medicine without having to get out of their vehicles. Riley-White has also provided home delivery service over the years.

The latest change was a large-scale remodeling of the store in 2007 with the pharmacy the focal point. Additionally, the building was rewired and new computer hardware and software installed.

Although Carroll Riley reduced his work schedule in 1999, Riley-White has three full-time pharmacists. In addition to White, they are Lindsey Flanders and RHS graduate David Guion, and Donnie Riley is at the Russellville location when he's not at the Clinic Pharmacy. Mark Reynolds has joined the staff in accounting after many years in management at the Russellville Electric Plant Board. He is one of 28 employees of Riley-White. (In the photo, Guion is in the middle with Flanders at left and White at right.)

The owners of Riley-White have long been involved in community activities. Carroll Riley served as president of Russellville Lions Club and district governor of Lions in Kentucky, president of the Russellville Country Club, and on the board of directors of Logan County Hospital and the Logan County Chamber of Commerce. He served on the Kentucky Pharmacists Association Board of Directors and was appointed by Governor John Y. Brown to the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy. Jerry White served on the Russellville Board of Education for 25 years, including as its chairman. He was chairman of a massive undertaking in the 175th Anniversary of the Russellville Area in 1973, president of both the Russellville Rotary Club and the Retail Merchants Association, and a member of the Comprehensive Health Council of the Barren River Area Development District. Donnie Riley is past president of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association. He has served on the KPhA Board of Directors for three years and is currently completing his second term as a board member of the American Pharmacy Service Corporation. The grandson of the late Gene Riley, who is known as the founding father of the Logan County Tobacco & Heritage Festival, Donnie chaired the 24th and 25th festivals.

Riley-White has long been supportive of local broadcast and print media with its large-scale advertising program, and The Logan Journal welcomes this anchor of the Logan County economy as an advertiser on The LoJo.

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