McElveen’s Pharmacy’s original proprietor Alan McElveen died Sunday, Oct. 17, leaving behind a legacy of service spanning several decades.
Born and raised in Sylvania, McElveen began serving the people of Gainesville via the pharmacy now located on Thompson Bridge Road and continued to do so until 2019 when the ownership was passed to David and Annie Stanley.
According to David, he and McElveen entered one another’s lives at an opportune time, as McElveen was facing health issues and in need of a contingency plan for the pharmacy while David was nursing a goal of becoming a business owner and creating a better life for his family. Shortly after the Stanleys married and relocated to Gainesville — Annie’s hometown — David began working closely with McElveen at the pharmacy until purchasing it two years later.
With such a “strong, loyal, local customer base,” McElveen’s Pharmacy was a training ground for “how to treat customers like family” and “help them in any capacity you can,” David noted — core values that, inherited from their forerunner, the Stanleys intend to preserve at the pharmacy’s new location.
“It’s not just about owning a business, it’s about being part of the community and taking care of people the way that (McElveen) would have,” David said. “It’s about continuing to let people know they’ll be taken care of, that they can continue to trust who’s behind the counter.”
An active deacon and usher at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville, McElveen was one of the first faces folks would see on a given Sunday. According to fellow church members, his faithful meeting-and-greeting will be sorely missed.
“We lost one of the all-time greats,” said Eddie Hartness, who co-chaired the usher committee with McElveen for the last 10 years. “People like Alan are hard to replace. Seeing him every Sunday was part of going to church.”
McElveen was also one of the first to befriend First Baptist’s deacon chairman Jerry Johnson when he arrived in Gainesville as a pharmaceutical sales rep in the early 1980s. According to Johnson, McElveen wasted no time in becoming a friend, mentor and tennis partner.
One of McElveen’s most compelling attributes, according to Johnson, was his gift of encouragement and tendency to offer a kind word to everyone he met. Despite his battle with cancer, and eventually COVID-19, McElveen’s disposition hardly wavered, Johnson said.
“He was a fighter till the end,” Johnson said. “His focus was always on others. His legacy was definitely one of service. Service, and always having something positive to say about others. He was a fine pharmacist and a good businessman. He loved his family — my goodness, he loved his family. He was a faithful usher — there are certain people you expect to see when you go to a place, and Alan was one of those. You looked forward to being at church because of him.”
A graveside service is planned at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, in the Alta Vista Cemetery, 521 Jones St. in Gainesville, and a memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. that same day in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Gainesville, 751 Green St. in Gainesville, with a visitation to follow. Memorial Park Funeral Home is handling arrangements.