Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
Russ Johnson Jr., PH’52, was selected to receive the 2015 Lawrence C. and Delores M. Weaver Medal of Honor, the highest honor
given by Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (CPHS).
The Weaver Medal of Honor recognizes an individual’s dedication to making a substantial impact on the profession of pharmacy and the advancement of human health. It is presented annually to a recipient who has fulfilled one of the following criteria: the individual’s efforts have advanced the education, research, or outreach mission of the college for the benefit of human health; the individual has made a substantial impact on the profession of pharmacy; or the individual has provided to the college significant financial support that has funded strategic change and progress. The award is made possible by the generous gift of Lawrence Weaver, PH’49, and his wife, Delores.
Johnson grew up helping his “super mentor” father who owned Hammer Pharmacy (est. 1872), a corner drugstore in the East Village area of Des Moines. After graduating from Drake University College of Pharmacy in 1952, he continued working at Hammer’s as a pharmacist for several years. In addition, he also developed departments that eventually became Hammer’s successful long-term care prescription pharmacy and Hammer Medical Supply, while also owning three Union Prescription Centers and King’s Pharmacy. Johnson eventually founded and served as the first CEO of the multi-state Medicap Pharmacy franchise company. In addition, his involvement in long-term care pharmacy led to several state legislative actions, as well as the formation of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacist.
“Russ embodies many of the values of the College, including innovation, entrepreneurial leadership, collaboration, collegiality, and professionalism,” said Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Wendy Duncan. “His dedication to the profession of pharmacy and the College has made a substantial impact.”
Johnson has been active in the community, serving as a board member for Drake University, Ronald McDonald House, and Iowa Lutheran Hospital. He served in leadership roles as Polk County Cancer Society chairman, Iowa Pharmacy Foundation president, Polk County Pharmacy Association president, and as a founding member and officer of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. Russ was also a finalist for the Iowa-Nebraska Entrepreneur of the Year Award and received the Iowa Pharmacy Association Bowl of Hygeia Award.
Russ’s commitment to Drake University was highlighted in his nomination letter. The Johnsons, Russ and Lucille, have been dedicated President’s Circle members for several years. Russ created a fund to support a senior award in honor of his father, Russ Johnson Sr.
“Russ is an innovative practitioner and has devoted much of his time to serving others, two of the traits that the College is known for,” CPHS Associate Dean and Professor Renae Chesnut said in her nomination letter.
Following in his footsteps, Russ’s four children have each attended Drake, and he now appreciates the involvement of third and fourth generations of his family in the continued development, growth, and ownership of Hammer Medical Supply. After a rewarding career, today Russ is enjoying life in retirement.
Visit the CPHS website for information on the past recipients of the Weaver Medal of Honor.