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Ted Poulos gave of himself at every turn

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POSTED May 1, 2017 12:48 a.m.

Manteca businessman and pharmacist Ted Poulos learned early in life the importance of giving back to the community.

Ted, who passed on last week at age 89, never forgot how others had paved the way for him to be successful in college and business. Ted was instrumental in giving birth to Delta Bank, the Manteca District Ambulance, and Manteca Hospital while serving as a trustee on school and college boards.

Ted always remembered how the former owner of the Manteca Drug Store in the 100 block of West Yosemite Avenue, Les Wilson,  had taken him under his wing and supported his Pharmacology studies in college.

It was Wilson he credited for his becoming a pharmacist and the love of his life Antonette Marchitelli for always being there for him. It was Wilson who clearly recognized his strong drive and character.

Ted did the same thing for countless others – allowing students to intern in his store – and made sure they were successful in their education.  There were quite a number of those students who couldn’t afford Pharmacy School. Ted helped them with their tuition on his dime when he saw their promise.  Those pharmacy students were also known to do their yearlong internships at The Manteca Drug Store. 

He first went to work for Wilson and later became his partner, eventually buying the store from him as his own.

Ted had a keen eye always focused on his elderly customers who picked up their prescriptions at his counter.  When he recognized they were alone at home with no one to help them eat and take their pills at lunch time, it was not uncommon for him to send one of his sales clerks to their kitchens to cook and feed them their soup, drinks and sandwiches.

There were other partners who were later added to the fold including Stan Lee and Ed Larimer.  Lee’s daughter Susan shared Saturday that it was because of Ted Poulos that she was able to get her Pharmacy Degree.  Her father Stan Lee had quite an extraordinary record with the U.S. Air Force. He was just a soft spoken and kind as Poulos and fit right into the professional setting downtown in the mid to late ‘50s.  

Ed Larimer, likewise, is now retired after working as a pharmacist for 46 years continuing on at Payless and Target after Poulos retired in 1994. Larimer started at the pharmacy in 1969 and became a partner in 1971.   His wife Peggy also worked for the Poulos family and glows when recalling Ted’s kindness to others.

“He was really a first class boss,” she said. 

Larimer said he mowed lawns on Lincoln Street in his teen years and had a goal of majoring in Atomic Energy at Stanford University – where they boasted of having a linear accelerator — until Poulos offered him a job as a stock boy at the pharmacy. That changed his thoughts about his future.  Ted won him over. Ted had told Larimer he should go to the UOP Pharmacy School and mention his name.  When he said Poulos had referred him he was accepted with a snap, Larimer said. 

Larimer said Ted was a man who was always willing to give the shirt off of his back when he saw someone in need.  He added that he didn’t remember him ever saying no to anyone asking for his help.  

“He was a rare man.  I don’t know how he was able to accomplish so much – always looking for ways to make improvements in the community,” Larimer said.  “If it wasn’t for Ted and Mr. Wilson I don’t know where I would have been – I wouldn’t have been a pharmacist.”

It was Larimer who was charged with operating the satellite pharmacy at the Manteca Hospital on East North Street. 

Artimas Vourakis,  the owner of Tony and Mrs. K’s restaurant at Yosemite and Cottage avenues, knew the Poulos family and Ted in particular.  She chuckled when she remembered her dad giving Ted his first job irrigating grapes at one of his ranches in Escalon.  She said her Dad forgot to drive back out and pick him up at the end of the night. Ted was out in the fields all night long until sunrise. Her Dad relied how he was shocked when he returned the next day and  the young teen was still waiting for him out in the fields full of water. 

Sunday afternoon I got to visit with Art Cabral – longtime real estate man in town – who had grown up with Ted. They both lived on Austin Road near each other south of Yosemite Avenue.  They went to Calla Elementary School together and made fishing poles out of tree limbs when they turned 15 and searched out frogs in ponds near Spreckels Sugar.  Cabral said his mom – who didn’t speak English – would sit and talk with Ted for hours. They somehow understood each other.  She often had him at their house for dinner. 

“Wherever Ted went or I went, we were always together,” Cabral said.  During the war a lot of the guys were going in the service.  Those were good days.  Nobody was shooting anyone and no drugs on the streets.  The biggest thrill was putting a cow back into a barn that had gotten out.”

As for those frog catches – the boys had a market of 15 cents a frog through a friend of a friend Clarence Edwards who many old timers will remember. Cabral said neither one of them had a car so they would either walk or take the bus to Manteca High School.  One day they hitched a ride and the driver lost control and crashed backwards into one of the Spreckels employee homes on Yosemite Avenue near the line of sycamore trees.  They turned down another offer to ride to school and walked instead, Cabral recalled. 

“For 15 cents you’d get a hell of a good milk shake in town,” Cabral recalled.

Chuckling, Cabral remembers when his parents had to go to a funeral and left Ted in charge to milk the cows,  despite the fact he didn’t know the first thing about milking. He ended up getting kicked by one of them.

“After he became a pharmacist, he would always stop by my ranch at least once a week just to say hi,” Cabral said.  “We had a lot of good days together.  He was a good friend and my mom really appreciated him.”

I personally had visited Ted a few times after he had gone to Bethany Home in his final weeks – very difficult to see this good friend unable to hold a conversation.  He has touched so many – so many will miss him dearly. God speed my friend.  I can only hope some of your character rubbed off on me. 

To contact Glenn Kahl, email gkahl@mantecabulletin.com.

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