CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Yes, there's still a Fruth calling the shots for Fruth Pharmacy.
In 2009, four years after Jack Fruth's sudden death, former teacher Lynne Fruth gave up a flourishing career as a school system consultant to operate Fruth Pharmacy Inc., the 25-store chain her father started from scratch in 1952.
Fueled by passion, tenacity and the ideals her father instilled in her, she brought the company back to the prominence it enjoyed under his watch.
Sorting through letters and notes in his desk, she discovered another dimension to his compelling bootstrap success story -- the role of Good Samaritan.
The revelation inspired her to commission a book about his life, "A Journey of Giving."
Interviewed at the Oakwood Road store, known to the corporation as Store 14, she talked about growing up in the first Fruth store in Point Pleasant and the legacy of the man behind that familiar name.
"It's easy for people to look and think, 'Oh, they're so successful.' My parents struggled a lot. They couldn't afford a home for years. My dad started the pharmacy in Point Pleasant in November 1952. He was the only employee. The first day, they took in $37.
"They lived in a hovel-like house -- a dining room, kitchen and one bedroom -- and they had two children. My parents slept on a foldout couch, and the two kids shared a bedroom.
"When I was in high school, they bought my uncle's home, an older home. By today's standards, my parents lived in a very modest home. My mom still lives there.
"When he died, my father had three pieces of value -- a wedding ring, a ring my grandmother had given him and a watch. He was more about leaving the world a better place.
"He was the most generous and concerned person, very outgoing and jovial. There was something about his personality that attracted people.
"When he passed away, everybody kept telling me stories about what my dad had done for them. After 25 people saying to me that my dad was their best friend, I thought, I don't really think he was, but he made you feel you were the most important person in his life at that moment.
"He was a very astute businessman. He understood what customers wanted. In the middle of the night, he would go down in his pajamas to fill a prescription or get somebody a vaporizer. How do you go someplace else after something like that?
"We didn't have as much as other kids, but I had the perfect childhood. We were very involved in going to the store every day where my dad worked long hours.
"When you grow up in a family business, it's hard to tell where the family stops and the business starts. My dad would do ads, more like handbills. Mom would take the five of us kids and drop us off at the top of each street, and we would put these fliers out door to door.
"At Christmas, we would wrap packages in the back room. When you got old enough to reach the cash register standing on a milk crate, the older ladies would teach us how to rings things up.
"All the food was made by my grandmother -- ham salad, chicken salad, pimento cheese, barbecues. We'd go get a ham salad sandwich and a Coke and read a comic book.
"We had only one store when I was growing up. In the '60s, Fruth Pharmacy in Point Pleasant was the largest retail store in the state. It had everything. We like to say we were the Wal-Mart before Wal-Mart.
"When I was little, we built a second store in downtown Point Pleasant. After four or five years, it burned. We didn't have enough insurance. The setback probably would be about $1 million in today's terms, so it took a long time to overcome. They didn't build the next store until I graduated from high school.
"I wanted to be in the Olympics. I was an athlete. I went to WVU on a softball scholarship. I was very competitive. I still am. Going to Fruth to put things back together, that competitive spirit of, 'I am not going to lose' is probably what put me through.
"I taught elementary and secondary education, primarily with struggling students. I started training teachers on ways to reach kids who struggled, and I ended up doing a lot of consulting, going to different school systems and figuring out what was wrong and how it could be fixed.