Family ties lead to VCU, and love, for alumni

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Catherine and Edward Cary

By Anthony Langley

A huge snowstorm hit Richmond, Virginia, in November 1987, blanketing the city and causing nearly everything to shut down, including Virginia Commonwealth University. If it weren’t for that snowfall, Catherine (B.S.’89/P; Pharm.D.’95/P) and Edward (B.S.’88/P) Cary might have never met.

“There had to be 20 inches of snow, and everyone who lived in the dorms was outside playing in it,” Edward says. “That was the first time I met her, and here we are today.”

They can also credit their families for bringing them to VCU. Edward’s sister, Carol Boswell (B.S.’79/N), and her husband, Peter Boswell (B.S.’76/H&S; M.H.A.’87/AHP), both matriculated at the university. Carol, who worked as a registered nurse at MCV Hospitals, encouraged Edward to apply to VCU, and it was through her recommendation that he chose to study pharmacy.

“She interacted with pharmacists in her day-to-day,” says Edward, who started out as a biology major on a pre-dental track. “She thought it would be a cool career, but told me I should try it out before making a decision.”

During his freshman year at VCU Edward accepted an unpaid position as a pharmacy technician at Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond, which piqued his interest in the field. A subsequent aptitude test revealed that his personality was perfectly suited for pharmacy. It was the final sign. He changed his major and never looked back.

“Without Carol’s recommendation, I’d probably be doing something else,” says Edward, staff pharmacist for the Mechanicsville, Virginia, Martin’s location. “I really credit her for my career in pharmacy.”

This fall he’s stepping back from his 30-year career as a pharmacist to pursue another interest: cooking. He’ll be taking classes part time at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College to earn a degree in culinary arts with plans to eventually become a chef. “I’ve always loved being a pharmacist, but I’ve always had a passion for cooking,” he says.

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Portrait of Daniel Herbert that hangs at Bremo Pharmacy

Like Edward, Catherine also has a sister, Michelle Thomas (B.S.’90/P), who attended VCU, and both women followed in the footsteps of their father, Daniel Herbert (B.S.’66/P). Daniel founded Richmond’s Bremo Pharmacy in 1976 and served as president of the American Pharmacists Association until his passing in 2004.

Catherine grew up working in her dad’s pharmacy and ran cross-country in high school, so when it was time to choose a college, VCU was the perfect fit. It supported a cross-country team, and at the time, was the only pharmacy school in Virginia.

“It was a natural choice for me,” Catherine says. “VCU had everything I was looking for. I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Today, as president of Bremo Pharmacies, she oversees all three Bremo Pharmacy locations, continuing to build on the work that her father started nearly 40 years before.

Edward and Catherine both credit VCU for giving them the opportunities they have and joined VCU Alumni as Life members to give back to the university that provided them so much.

“The two of us have a real legacy here,” Catherine says. “This is where Bremo started, and if Ed’s sister had never come to the university, we may have never met all those years later. We owe VCU for our careers, and for each other.”