Gillis is featured speaker at Winter Lecture Series in OsakisNeil Gillis has been a model Osakis citizen. The 60-year resident was for a long time the friendly pharmacist at the local drug store.
By: By Stella Riley Bender, Contributing Writer, Alexandria Echo Press
Neil Gillis has been a model Osakis citizen.
The 60-year resident was for a long time the friendly pharmacist at the local drug store. He served as a volunteer on the school board and in the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Community Memorial Home and Presbyterian Church. He’s been active on the town’s golf course and in the bowling alley.
Now 92 and mostly retired, Gillis will share stories from what he calls “My Wonderful Life” on Sunday afternoon, January 18 at 2.p.m. in the Osakis Information Center located downtown at 11 East Main Street.
The event is free and open to the public. There will be time for questions and refreshments will be served.
Gillis’ talk is the first of three programs in Winter Lecture Series 2009, presented by the Osakis Area Heritage Center and funded by grants from Runestone Electric Association and Stearns County Electric Association.
While still in high school Gillis knew he wanted to be a pharmacist. Although the country was in the midst of the Great Depression, he accomplished his goal at the University of Minnesota.
The young pharmacist was managing a drug store in Minneapolis when he heard the one in Osakis was for sale. He and his late wife Wanda purchased the store in 1949, renamed it Gillis Rexall Drug, and operated the business until 1985 when it was sold to Gregg Anderson.
In his Sunday afternoon talk, Gillis will tell stories about his experiences, with perhaps some surprises. While he will certainly recall the historic 1962 windstorm that damaged his drug store building, he may not talk about an earlier time when he was held up at gunpoint.
Asked if he had any regrets, Gillis said, “Heavens, no. I married a wonderful woman, I lived in a wonderful town and I had a wonderful profession. I couldn’t have done it any better if I’d dreamt of it first.”
Winter Lecture Series 2009 will continue February 22 with the sixth annual “Old-Fashioned Sunday Afternoon Musicale,” featuring the Gordon Men’s Chorus and guitarist Freddie Dean.
For more information, call (320) 859-5161 or (320) 859-4151.