Friends, colleagues remember NACDS’ Robert J. Bolger
ALEXANDRIA, Va. In life and in business there are essentially two kinds of people: people who work hard behind the scenes, who leverage relationships and pull people and resources together to make things happen; and there are people who take credit for it. Robert J. Bolger was the kind of guy that made things happen, friends and colleagues of the former National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and chief executive officer told Drug Store News in the wake of his passing, early Monday morning. Bolger was 85 years old.
Bolger, who joined NACDS in 1962, was elected the organization’s first president and chief executive in 1967, a post he served with distinction for some 20 years, and spanning a critical period in drug store retailing. At a time when powerful regional chains were morphing into national players, Bolger convened office when NACDS’ board of advisors was made up of executives named for the companies they led—it was a different era. Bolger is routinely credited as the man that brought the industry into the modern era.
“Bob was involved in the direction of NACDS for 25 years—that says a lot right there,” noted NACDS senior vice president of member programs and services Jim Whitman. Bolger played an integral role not just in the evolution of the industry but also in the evolution of the trade association business, Whitman told Drug Store News.
“Bob understood that the role of a trade association was to serve its members—first and foremost,” Whitman explained. “He understood that the members are the No. 1 priority.”
Bolger also understood some other key fundamentals as it relates to the trade association management business in general, and drug store retailing, in particular. It was under Bolger that NACDS held its first-ever Marketplace meeting in 1987; 20 years later, it remains, arguably, the single-most important event on the industry’s calendar.
Bolger is also responsible for relocating NACDS to Alexandria in 1980, purchasing the first of the buildings that comprise its current office campus along the banks of the Potomac. “Bob understood the importance to NACDS members of having a centrally located headquarters based in the Capitol,” Whitman added. It wasn’t long before other trade associations figured it out, too, but NACDS, under Bolger’s leadership was the first.
Bolger also understood the importance of legislative and government affairs; under Bolger NACDS expanded government affairs activities to focus on challenges at the state level.
More than anything else, perhaps, Bolger is remembered as a visionary and a consensus builder, who truly understood how to balance the needs of NACDS members—all of them; big and small, retailer and supplier.
“His keen recognition of the importance of bringing chains and suppliers together manifested itself, among other ways, in the creation of NACDS Marketplace,” noted NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “He also appreciated the changing composition of regional and national chain members, as well as the increasing implications to the membership of government programs. He saw the changes, foresaw their implications and knew how to work with other leaders through [NACDS] to address them.”
For Bolger—who began his career on the vendor side of the business, working for companies such as Kraft Foods, Smith Kline and French Laboratories—people came first; family, friends and colleagues. The decorated WWII veteran is survived by his wife of 53 years, Helen, as well as six children and eight grandchildren.
“It’s hard to mention Bob without Helen—in their time, they put a warm, human face on NACDS,” recalled Drug Store News vice president of customer development Jay Forbes, who was Drug Store News publisher during the Bolger years. “Bob was beloved by both the chain and supplier community and, in particular, we here at Drug Store News. He had an endearing personality and a gentle kindness. He was a man who, long after stepping down from his position of influence, was still sought out and warmly welcomed by virtually all in our industry. He will be missed.”
“NACDS remembers Bob as a committed family man, as the consummate trade association leader, and as an effective advocate for the members whom NACDS represents,” Anderson noted. “Bob’s leadership forged both the philosophical identity and physical home of NACDS. He understood and sought to address the needs of a diverse membership in an evolving business and public policy environment.
“He is remembered as a leader who inspired excellence in association management, and who equipped his team with the professional development and resources necessary to do their jobs and advance their careers,” said Anderson.
A funeral mass will be held Thursday, Oct. 11, at 10:30 a.m., at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in Alexandria, Va.; an internment ceremony will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in the name of Bob Bolger, to:Office of University DevelopmentVillanova University800 Lancaster AvenueVillanova, PA 19085
Or, alternatively, to:LaSalle College High School
8605 Cheltenham AvenueWyndmoor, PA 19038
NACDS mourns passing of its first president
ALEXANDRIA, Va. Drug Store News has learned of the passing of former—and first—NACDS president and chief executive officer Bob Bolger, who died early Monday morning. The following is from NACDS president Steve Anderson:
On the Passing of Robert J. Bolger
I must share with the members and partners of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores the sad news that Bob Bolger passed away early in the morning on Monday, Oct. 8. Bob served NACDS honorably, energetically and successfully from 1962 to 1987, and was elected as NACDS’ first president and chief executive officer in 1967. Subsequently, he served as a member of the NACDS Honorary Board.
NACDS remembers Bob as a committed family man, as the consummate trade association leader and as an effective advocate for the members whom NACDS represents. It is an appropriate reflection of Bob’s life first to offer condolences and warm remembrances to his wife, Helen, to their six children and their children’s spouses, and eight grandchildren.
Bob’s leadership forged both the philosophical identity and physical home of NACDS. He understood, and sought to address, the needs of a diverse membership in an evolving business and public policy environment. He led the initiative to secure the land and construct NACDS’ current headquarters offices in Alexandria, Va. Indeed, we owe much of who we are to Bob Bolger.
Prior to joining NACDS, Bob worked with front-end and pharmaceutical suppliers, Kraft Foods Company and Smith Kline & French Laboratories. His keen recognition of the importance of bringing chains and suppliers together manifested itself, among other ways, in the creation of the NACDS Marketplace Conference. He also appreciated the changing composition and needs of regional and national chain members, as well as the increasing implications to the membership of government programs. He saw the changes, foresaw their implications, and knew how to work with other leaders through the Association to address them.
Bob contributed valuably to the association community beyond NACDS, serving in leadership positions in several pharmacy, retail and business associations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He is remembered by the NACDS staff as a leader who inspired excellence in association management, and who equipped his team with the professional development and resources necessary to do their jobs and advance their careers. To remember the vibrant life of Bob Bolger, and on behalf of his family, we invite you to participate as you are able in the following arrangements:
Visitation Wednesday, October 10, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Demaine Funeral Home 520 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia
Mass of Christian Burial
Thursday, October 11, at 10:30 a.m. St. Mary’s Catholic Church 310 S. Royal Street, Alexandria, Virginia Interment will follow at St. Mary’s Cemetery
Memorial Contributions and Expressions of Sympathy In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Bob’s name to: Office of University Development Villanova University
800 Lancaster Avenue Villanova, PA 19085
Alternatively, contributions may be made in Bob’s name to: LaSalle College High School 8605 Cheltenham Avenue Wyndmoor, PA19038
Finally, expressions of sympathy can be sent to Helen and the family at: Helen Bolger 7705 Maid Marian Court Alexandria, VA 22306
Please join all of us in remembering fondly and appreciating fully the legacy of Bob Bolger.
Wyeth Prempro breast cancer suit in deliberations
RENO, Nev. A civil lawsuit involving three northern Nevada women and Wyeth has gone to deliberation after four weeks of testimony, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The women claim that the manufacturer decided to market two hormone replacement drugs: Premarin and Prempro, without properly testing the drugs. The women all have breast cancer and blame the company for launching the drugs, even though they knew of the risks involved in taking the medication.
The company said that they followed the rules set by the Food and Drug Administration’s directive and created a label for the drugs that detailed risks associated with taking the medication. It also stands by the drugs stating that, “To this day, [the drugs] are the most effective available for menopausal symptoms,” according to Wyeth lawyer Heidi Hubbard.
The women are seeking damages that could be potentially worth millions of dollars.