Farmville Magazine Fall 2018

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Best Value Drug Preserving H.B. Sugg School


Find It First In Farmville D R Burton Inspiring for Life

The Downbeats Rebecca Phillips



Farmville Magazine Fall 2018





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Allen’s Body Worx Alliance One International Inc. Anita E. Powell Ann Beckman Ann J. Moore Ann R. Lancaster Ann Walston Joyner At Barre Audrey Vines Auto Depot Inc. Auto Store of Farmville Barnes Mobile Car Wash BB&T Bennett’s Irrigation Service Benji & Anna Holloman Beth Hardy Beth B. Ward Bert & Susan Smith Bert & Diane Warren Bert & Julie Warren Best Value Drug Bob & Bernice Newton Boberg Law Office Boost Mobile Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain-Farmville Unit Brad Woodard Brann & Sons Brenda Elks Café Madeleine Bakery & Wine Carl Blackwood Carolina First Mortgage Carolina Poultry Power Carraway Office Solutions Carraway Service Center Chad & Janette Beauchamp Charles A. Rice, CPA, PA Charles P. Farris Jr. Cherie Little Christopher P. Edwards CMP Pharma Inc. Coastal Rivers Realty Colonial Inn Connie M. Corey Copy Pro Corbett Hughes Cut-N-Up On Mane Cutie Patooty Dana Cox Dapper Dan’s Art & Antique Gallery Data Group - Bryan Barrow Dave Etheridge David Holloman David & Marion Stowe Davis Enterprises Deetleskeet Design DeMarte & Shequanna Chambers Dixon & Associates, Realty Dixon Foods Group (McDonald’s) Donny & Ann Hemby Doris Britt Doug Henry Chevrolet Drs. Warren & Hardee Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery Inc. Durwood & Jane Little E.L. Photography East Coast Glass Eastern NC Stop Human Trafficking Now Edith Warren Edward & Gretchen Allen Edward Jones Investments Eilisain Jewelry LCC ElectriCities of NC Electronic Services Inc.

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Eloise May Carraway Elvin’s Exotic Beauty Salon Emmanuel Episcopal Church Farm Bureau Farmville Community Arts Council Farmville Funeral Home Farmville Furniture Co. Farmville Internal Medicine, PA Farmville Public Library Farmville Rotary Club Farmville Senior Council Farmville United Methodist Church Farmville Upholstery Farrior & Sons Inc. First Christian Church Frank Bradham Frankie Moye Greenville Museum of Art Griffis Development Inc. H&L Automotive Harriet Satterthwaite Harris Home Repair & Animal Feed H.B. Sugg Charitable Organization Hiks Fashions of N.Y. Hobbs Insurance Agency Home and Lawn Garden Club HomePlace Strawberries & More Hornes Funeral Home HTM Concepts of Martin Enterprises J and L Enterprises Jake Barrow Jack & Reg Lewis Janet B. Ellis Jean Allen Jean D. Ellis Jessica’s Gun Shop John & Charlotte Mewborn Joshua Smith Joy Collins Joyce Albritton Judy Gidley Just Write Engraving Kathleen Rafferty Kenny & Cheryl Patterson Kevin Wainwright-Farm Bureau La Cabanita Mexican Restaurant Lanoca Coffee Co. Little Creek Market Little Rocket Limitless Welding & Fabrication LLC Linda Adele Goodine & Mark Richardson Lynda Moore Real Estate Major Benjamin May Chapter DAR

Martha Pierce Martin Brossman Mary Morrison Dixon May-Lew Farms May Museum & Park McKee3 Inc. Melanie Diehl Mestek Inc. (Sterling Heating Div) Mike & Kathy Marengo Mike’s Hauling & Tree Service Moore Marketing and Advertising Mosquito Authority of Eastern NC LLC Myrtle Grove Catering LLC Nathan R. Cobb Sr. Foundation Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration LLC Pat Carr Paulette Ellis Pearls on the Pamlico Perspecta Physicians East, PA Pierce Insurance Agency Inc. Piggly Wiggly of Farmville Pitt Community College Popinjay Pour Haus Randy & Carolyn Erwin Rasberry’s Locksmith Raymond James & Associates RD Salon Rebecca B. Thomas Rhonda’s Gems Rise & Grind Roadrunner Café Robert & Betsy Hughes Robert & Faye Evans Robert & Judy May Roger & Mindy Knox Rose D. Goforth Rosemary H. Turnage Rubicon Business Solutions Rusty & Patricia Duke S&J Auto Repair Sam’s Club Sandra P. Joyner Sara Beth Fulford Rhodes Seven Pines Vineyard & Winery Shelia Turnage & Rod Beasley Shelia Turnage Inc. Southern Bank & Trust Co. Sparkie Travis Tax Prep Services Taylor & Jones CPAs, PA The Breaker-Chad & Jeanette Beauchamp The Farmville Enterprise The Farmville Flower Basket The Frivolous Fox The Pitt County Post The Salvation Army Todd D. Edwards Construction Tony P. Moore Town of Farmville Tracie L. Peacock Uptown Properties LLC U.S. Cellular Verde Spa Victoria Schultz WarePack Self Storage LLC Wiener Dog Pottery William & Gray Baker Willow Grove Animal Clinic WITN Woodside Antiques Zakk Attack LLC (Highway 55)

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Farmville Magazine 2018

Contents ON THE COVER 6












S TA F F A N G E L A H A R N E , P U B L I S H E R / E D I TO R The Farmville Group members (L-R) Bert Smith, Todd Edwards, Randy Walters and Jamin Dixon are flipping negatives into positives pushing a mindset of “Only Good Things Happen in Farmville.”

B R E N DA M O N T Y, S TA F F W R I T E R A M B E R S TO C K S - R E V E L S , S TA F F W R I T E R D O N N A M A R I E W I L L I A M S , S TA F F W R I T E R




FARMVILLE© is published annually by The Farmville Enterprise newspaper. Contents are the property of this newspaper and may not be reproduced without prior written consent from the publisher. To advertise in this publication, call 252-753-4126.

Artist Vincent Li paints a vintage Farmville license plate on the side of a building on Wilson Street in downtown Farmville.

Focusing on Downtown Like a band of brothers, four businessmen are working the front lines to make Farmville a place where “Only Good Things Happen." By ANGELA HARNE


he Farmville Group started in 2012 when Randy Walters, Rod Lancaster and Bert Smith expressed growing concerns over several businesses in Farmville shutting down. All three at the time owned businesses in downtown Farmville. Walters is the owner of Farmville Furniture Co., one of the oldest established furniture companies in the state and a destination place for many. Smith is the former owner of Plank Road Steak House, and Lancaster once owned and operated the former Farmville Hardware Co. Focused on the future of downtown, the three men got together to brainstorm a plan to rejuvenate downtown and keep it healthy and vibrant. Todd Edwards, the owner of Todd D. Edwards Construction, joined The Farmville Group shortly after.


The group’s mission quickly developed into “creating a positive atmosphere and positive spin.” Lancaster pitched the slogan “Only Good Things Happen in Farmville.” Soon, the four men displayed the catchphrase on their storefronts. “There was no grand design (to revitalize downtown). It was all about attitude. The town was dying, and there was a negative spin,” Edwards said. “We knew we could promote positivity, and it grew from there.” Their push for positivity started with a simple encouragement for business owners to paint the exterior of their storefronts, Smith said. A few businesses upgrading their façade encouraged others to do the same, he added. “We encourage and promote,” Smith said with a smile. The Farmville Group mailed out its letter

of encouragement requesting they “do their part,” said Jamin Dixon. Dixon, an owner of numerous properties in downtown, received the group’s letter. “I was their project,” he said with a laugh. Dixon joined The Farmville Group in 2014, when Lancaster closed the hardware store and relocated. In 2012, Smith came across a magazine article about Lake City, S.C., which used the arts to rejuvenate its town. He thought: Farmville can do the same. Walters, an artist himself, knew several administrative members in the East Carolina University School of Art and Design. “We started connecting the dots,” Edwards said. Collectively, the four men had a strong network of allies and resources. Each reached out Farmville Magazine 2018

to agencies and entities with a goal to bring them to Farmville or have them help positively promote the town. The Farmville Group partnered with the Pitt County Economic Development Commission, East Carolina University, Pitt Community College, the DeVisconti Trust and others. Walters served 15 years on the Pitt Community College Foundation Board. “They wanted a presence in Farmville,” he said. Edwards said, “They weren’t looking at downtown, but we wanted them downtown.” When Bank of America closed, the vacant facility became the ideal location to house a Pitt Community College satellite campus. The satellite campus opened in January 2016. “We are all heavily invested in downtown, personally,” Edwards said. Smith added, “We all have skin in the game.” Downtown is the front door of a community, Edwards said. The group’s partnership with East Carolina University evolved into The GlasStation, the first of its kind in eastern North Carolina. The GlasStation houses East Carolina University classes where students learn the art of creation through glass. It officially opened in October 2016. The establishment of The GlasStation took nearly three years to complete. In the interim, The Farmville Group tapped into the buzz and excitement of its arrival and recruited several businesses to town. Dapper Dan’s relocated to Farmville from Greenville, along with Verde Spa, which closed its Winterville location. With the anticipated arrival of The GlasStation, East Carolina University’s presence grew in town, thanks to the efforts and commitment of professor Linda Adele Goodine. She helped The Farmville Group kick off an arts renaissance of sorts. Goodine and her students began sprucing up buildings in town with paint of vibrant colors. Efforts launched at Jack Cobb & Son BBQ. From there, Goodine started The Woodside WonderBox, a monthly rotating exhibit showcasing works by her students. This showcase opened the doors for artists Andrew Wells and Vincent Li to partner with The Farmville Group to restore old signs, including the railroad, tobacco, horse stable, oil company, Farmville license plate and “Find it First in Farmville” signs. They were also hired by local business owners to paint promotional signs on their Farmville Magazine 2018

East Carolina University graduate student Katya Harris paints a mural on the former Jack Cobb & Son BBQ restaurant. She also restored the Purina Chow sign in downtown Farmville.

storefronts. “Statewide, we have received recognition for our efforts,” Walters said. Edwards added, “We are not a town entity, but ElectriCities, Pitt Development Commission and the Department of Commerce responds to us. We are the private sector. Volunteer folks.” The men attribute the town’s turnaround to the businessmen and women who work in town daily. “This is only successful if all are involved. We are working behind the scenes funneling

funding so that only good things happen in Farmville. We want the businesses to be successful and in the limelight, not us,” Edwards said. “It’s four of us versus 4,500 people. As more and more people joined the effort with a positive attitude, it kind of forced others to get a positive attitude, too.” Positivity must have done the trick because pretty soon empty storefronts were filling up in downtown Farmville and the arts were taking center stage. Retail stores, like Rhonda’s Gems and The


Artist Andrew Wells uses a projector to restore the B.S. & R.L. Smith sign, now on display in downtown Farmville.

Frivolous Fox, opened their doors, expanding the options for art and antique shopping. The Farmville Community Arts Council also revamped its efforts by partnering with The Farmville Group to host monthly agricultural markets, which promote the arts. The council also revived its stagnant Artist of the Month exhibits. The East Carolina Art Space, operated by Edwards and Craig Steffee, also opened. The art space houses studios for local artists, a showcase and a boutique. “This is great history of economic development and the first time there has been an economic engine in downtown,” Walters said. “I haven’t been in a meeting in the east that Farmville wasn’t mentioned in a positive manner.” That’s a given, right? “Only Good Things Happen in Farmville.” “The community has reached out to us,” Edwards said, regarding the launch of a new business or expansion of another. “We try to give them advice about what works and what doesn’t.”


Since its inception, The Farmville Group has had a learning curve, the men admit. “A lot worked; some didn’t work,” Edwards said. Members have their strengths and areas of expertise. They each stay in their own lane to ensure the best result. “We all have our babies and partners,” Edwards said. “We slice up the pie.” Smith suggested The Farmville Group launch its own version of ABC’s television show, “Shark Tank.” To date, Farmville Shark Tank has hosted two sessions, resulting in the establishment of three businesses, including a vodka distillery, boutique and antique shop. “I saw the television show and thought, ‘Why can’t we do it?’ We look for viable merchants,” Smith said. Dixon added, “Shark Tank is just another tool.” The Farmville Group also assists in connecting potential and existing businesses with The Small Business Technology and Development Center at East Carolina University.

“The center gives them an intro to business and helps them grow an existing business. The center has lent a keen eye to Farmville and assisted quite a few,” Edwards said. Gail Nichols with Pitt Community College’s Small Business Center has also played a critical role in Farmville’s economic growth, he added. “The business of encouragement is key. People are willing to do it if they believe in it,” Walters said. When D R Burton, a manufacturer of medical devices, expressed an interest in relocating its Chicago-based business to Farmville, The Farmville Group “helped make sure” the relocation occurred, Edwards said. “We gave them all the support we could give,” Walters said. Continuing to look forward, The Farmville Group hopes to assist in the recruitment of a daycare, hardware store, hotel or bed and breakfast and restaurant. “We have an emphasis on quality. Not bigger, but better,” Edwards said. Smith added, “There are pockets of excellence everywhere with a ‘can do’ attitude.” The men are humbled to pay it forward. “I’m excited to help the town,” Walters said. “We couldn’t have a better group. We all have the same goal.” Jumping in, Smith finished the sentence with “improving our town.” Together, the men have approximately 120 years of experience in business. Smith owned and operated Plank Road Steak House for nine years. Walters has owned Farmville Furniture Co. for 24 years and has worked at the store for 48 years. Edwards has owned his construction business for 29 years, which has operated in Farmville for the past 24 years. Dixon has owned and operated Dixon & Associates for 18 years. “We have far exceeded our goal, and the success far exceeded our expectations,” Walters said, referring to Farmville’s economic growth. Edwards added, “Making business vital in Farmville has been fun. This isn’t about us. We have been pointedly focused with the right people, the right assets and the right organizations here. We just helped flip the attitude.” The Farmville Group meets weekly. Farmville Magazine 2018


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D R Burton relocated from Chicago in September 2016 to open its facility and headquarters in Farmville. The company manufactures medical devices.

D R Burton: Aims to inspire for life



ocated at 3936 S. Field St., Farmville, D R Burton Healthcare LLC is bringing innovation to the small town of Farmville.

D R Burton is a clinically owned manufacturer of medical devices, which brings an aspect to the company that makes it truly one of a kind. “We’re a clinically owned and renowned medical device manufacturer. That’s very unusual, but it gives us an enormous advantage in product design and management. We have intimate knowledge of how these products are used. Other manufacturers are engineering driven. Because of the lack of understanding of product information and pathophysiology, Farmville Magazine 2018

they care more about design features. We think that gives us a unique advantage over medical device manufacturers that are engineering driven,” said Dennis Cook, the president and chief executive officer of D R Burton. Before establishing D R Burton, Cook was the president of a radiology device manufacturer in Chicago for three years. Cook also served as the president at Medline in the Chicago area for seven years. The creators of the company are all featured within the name of the company. The “D” represents “Dennis,” who holds a bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy and is a registered respiratory therapist. The “R” represents Robert Tan, who is

no longer invested with the company, but helped to establish D R Burton. “Burton” represents husband and wife, Chester and Joyce Burton. The Burtons reside in New York, where they are physicians. D R Burton maintains a goal of providing clinically proven medical products that will help improve care and save lives while driving costs down. The story of the company began when Cook was approached by a former business acquaintance about the potential of commercializing intellectual property around lung treatment devices he was developing and owned. “He asked me if I would be interested in 11

Amber Wright works to inspect each vPEP with a simulator prior to the device’s shipment. Below: Dennis Cook, the president and chief executive officer, demonstrates how the J-Wand is placed during an intubation.

giving up the career I had to start a medical device business. I needed to get more feedback from the market,” Cook said, explaining market research needed to be performed before jumping into the opportunity. After this research was completed and the results were in, Cook was ready to make the leap and the iPEP or incentive positive 12

expiratory pressure system was created. “The iPEP is a game changer. It was going to be a winner,” Cook said. “We needed to develop another product platform that the market had already adopted.” Soon the vPEP, a device that provides oscillating positive expiratory pressure, was created. The vPEP is used to treat patients

with various lung diseases and other breathing problems and also helps prevent pneumonia. The vPEP delivers a combination of positive expiratory pressures with highfrequency oscillations. “This vibrates your lungs from the inside out,” Cook said. With the vibrations, more secretions can be removed from the lungs, and it allows the patient to take a deeper breath than normal and improves the patient’s cough effectiveness, which, in turn, prevents pneumonia. Together, the vPEP technology is combined with an incentive spirometer, a deep breathing exercise device, to create the iPEP. An incentive spirometer is a common tool used among clinicians post operatively to help prevent pneumonia and to measure breathing ability. The patient is asked to take a slow breath in. A float is used to help the patient and the practitioner determine the slowness of the breath. The breath then moves a small float, which helps practitioners measure the patient’s breath size. The patient is then asked to blow into the breathing tube. The iPEP incorporates the vPEP oscillations, which then helps mobilize lung secretions. This helps prevent infections. “We combined two gold standards of care Farmville Magazine 2018

into one. When used together, it makes it much more effective,” Cook said. The effectiveness of the products comes from a practitioner’s ability to measure the patient effort as to whether or not the patient took in or blew out an effective breath. Regular oscillating positive expiratory pressure devices use a blind technique to determine breathing. Practitioners are not always able to determine if a patient has performed the task properly because current products do not measure patient effort. “We studied a large group of patients and the findings indicated that nearly 60 percent were not getting effective treatment,” Cook said, regarding oscillating positive expiratory pressure devices. The iPEP dramatically improves the effectiveness of the therapy and improves outcomes due to feedback from the product during use. The company received confirmation that the iPEP was a game changer when the product was compared with other similar products. The company used a lung simulator and recording characteristics to measure the effectiveness of the iPEP. D R Burton discovered that the iPEP maintained a much higher

oscillation and flow rate than comparable products. D R Burton also manufactures a product designed by Farmville resident Jay Annis. Annis is a certified registered nurse anesthetist,

D R Burton requires all products be tested before leaving the facility. whose career helped lead him to develop the J-Wand. The J-Wand is an intubation stylet with the unique feature that allows oxygen to be delivered during the intubation process. “I performed quite a few intubations over the last 13 years,” Annis said, explaining a change in technology helped give way to the idea.

Currently, a video laryngoscope is the common form of practice when intubating a patient. A video laryngoscope uses a curved blade with a video camera and allows a technician to see the trachea as they intubate a patient. “Before, if you couldn’t get the tube in, you would have to take everything out and then you have to oxygenate the patient with a bag and oxygen mask and then start over. That can be dangerous for someone who is unconscious,” Annis said. The J-Wand was designed to make placement easier and ease the stress associated with the procedure, according to Cook. With the ability to deliver oxygen as the patient is being intubated, the J-Wand is one of a kind. “It will save lives,” Cook said, adding that a patient can experience brain damage or death if deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period. Annis said, “(D R Burton) has been very supportive in helping me develop the product. I think it will make an impact in healthcare and save lives.” Along with these products, D R Burton has three issued patents, two pending patents and manufactures more than 10 different devices

GCHC is an equal opportunity provider and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or diability. Farmville Magazine 2018


with several more to be released within the year. All products manufactured by the company are labeled and tested for quality. “Quality is a big deal of what we do. It’s what we live, eat and breathe,” Cook said. “We test and inspect to make sure everything is operational. We do a 100 percent inspection,” Cook said. Only after a product passes inspection, does the product receive a label. The label contains the entire lifespan of the product’s life. “We trace the product all the way through its life cycle. It’s part of our quality control (and) a key part of product testability,” Cook said. The innovation of D R Burton does not only spawn from the products the company produces but also with the facility itself. The building features a modern design, which reflects the company’s desire to create leading medical products that will improve patient health. Along with this, D R Burton is a wireless facility, meaning that conferences can be held all over the world in any room. “The design is an industrial look and very

clean. Everything is wireless,” Cook said. The 35,000-square-foot building was purchased in October 2015 after remaining empty for 15 years. The shell building was originally built as a joint effort between Pitt and Greene counties as a way to attract manufactures into the area. The building and location were exactly what Cook was looking for. “We looked on the western side (of the state), but we didn’t find anything that worked. We were looking for a building that we could make our own,” Cook said. The proximity to East Carolina University was an advantage to D R Burton. “ECU was very helpful with clinical research,” Cook said. Located on a 10-acre lot, D R Burton has the potential to expand, which has been an intention of Cook since the beginning. “I would like to have three to five hundred employees and continue to expand the product line with products that drive down cost, improve care and save lives,” Cook said. The building itself has the potential to expand to 120,000 square feet. D R Burton is a clinically driven facility that emphasizes the importance of medical

technology. The company employs 32. “I’m most proud of the scientific research we do. It’s evidence-based product design,” Cook said. After some adjustments, the shell building became home to D R Burton in September 2016. “Everything was just right for us. We like the local community. The local community leaders have been very embracing,” Cook said. Not only does D R Burton want to improve the medical community, but the company has a desire to enhance the community of Farmville by providing employment. “We can attract the employees that we need by being close to the Triangle. We have created jobs that are above the average income. They are much higher skilled technical jobs,” Cook said. By being owned by medical professionals who have experience in the field and with the products being offered, D R Burton hopes to take what is on the market and increase the products’ effectiveness. D R Burton’s goal to “inspire for life” encompasses every aspect of the business from design to product testing and all the way to use in the medical field.

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Farmville Magazine 2018

Farmville Magazine 2018


Downbeats The

Great music always has a way of bringing people back together Downbeats members (L-R) Jones Fuquay, Henry D. Jefferson, Glenn Johnston and Richard “Dick” Anderson used Anderson’s father’s van to travel to and from shows.



fter 50 years apart, The Downbeats have reunited, thanks to their love of music and an everlasting friendship. The Downbeats began their musical journey in Farmville in 1965, when some of the band members were only in middle school. The group began with five members: Richard “Dick” Anderson, Jones Fuquay, Henry D. Jefferson and siblings, Alice and Ed Beddingfield. The Beddingfields were the only members of the group to live outside of Farmville. They resided in Stantonsburg. After a short stint in the band, the Beddingfield siblings left the


The Downbeats (L-R) Richard “Dick” Anderson, Frank Jones, Glenn Johnston, Jones Fuquay and Henry D. Jefferson performed at many locations in Farmville.

group due to their inability to operate a car. They were under age 16 and had to rely on their parents for transportation. With two new openings, Mike Taylor and

Frank Jones joined the band. Eventually, The Downbeats added Glenn Johnston to their group. “All of us, except Henry, were in the Farmville Magazine 2018

Farmville High School band. That’s how we found Glenn,” Taylor said, explaining Johnston played percussion in the band. With Anderson on keyboard, Jones on guitar, Johnston on drums, Fuquay on bass and vocals, Jefferson on rhythm guitar and vocals, and Taylor on tambourine, guitar, percussion and vocals, The The Downbeats were Downbeats ready to rock and roll, or rather shag played and bop. Inspired by The often enough Beatles, a Britto gain ish band whose musical sounds popularity stretched across the Big Pond, The throughout Downbeats began the area. by only playing Beatles cover songs. “We were all big fans of The Beatles. If it wasn’t for the Beatles, we probably wouldn’t have gotten into it,” Johnston said. The group played Beatles songs, dressed like the group, mimicked their photos and even referred to Fuquay as the Paul McCartney of the group and Jefferson as the John Lennon of the group. Fuquay even played a 62 Hardman Hofner guitar just like McCartney. The only exception was that Fuquay was right-handed and McCartney was left-handed. “Jones and I represented Lennon and McCarthy. We shared the same mic. The irony was that I was left-handed. We did Lennon and McCartney all day long,” Jefferson said.

Eventually, The Downbeats moved from just covering Beatles songs to beach music. “As we got into our final iteration it was mostly beach music. When we were in high school, shagging was the dance everybody did. Everything we played had to have some type of shagging beat,” Anderson said. Jefferson added, “They called it the bop.” The group practiced in Jefferson’s garage at his home off of “Fountain Highway,” N.C. 222. “We had a saintly neighbor, Martha Bass,” Jefferson said, explaining she never complained about the noise from band practices. The group also practiced in Farmville High School by singing a cappella down the hallways. “It started in the halls of Farmville High. We practiced in the halls,” Jefferson said, explaining the halls provided good acoustics. Once old enough to obtain driver’s licenses, the group borrowed Anderson’s father’s van and used it to haul equipment to and from shows. “The van had so much exhaust that it went into the van,” Fuquay said, describing the condition of the van. The Downbeats had their first performance in 1967 at Farmville’s Paramount Theater, when they played during intermission at a movie double feature. “One of the driving forces for us was my father’s greed for money. He let us play at the Paramount Theater; that was one of our first shows. We only played five songs, but he printed it on giant signs. Had he not done that, I wonder if we would still do it,” Taylor said. Their first performance was a success, and the adrenaline of performing was now pumping through the musicians’ veins. “After getting through that night, we thought New York was next. We were foolish,” Taylor

said, explaining the group ran through the streets that night acting like girls were chasing them. After that, the band began performing at various places around Farmville and were even paid for some of their gigs. They played at The Armory, the Boys and Girls Club, the Scout huts, Hollywood Cemetery, the Farmville gym, Farmville Country Club and the Farmville American Legion. The band also played at various school dances. When the band was between gigs, they would host their own dances where they were the main act. “There was not much entertainment in Farmville. We would rent the American Legion or Armory and put the dance on ourselves, charge admission and everyone from Farmville High School would come,” Anderson said. The Downbeats gained popularity in surrounding areas. They played in Ayden at the Boys and Girls Club, the Greenville Moose Lodge, the Raleigh State Library, in Rocky Mount and at Davidson College. The band gained such notoriety that they were asked to play at a fundraising event held at Minges Coliseum in Greenville for Democratic nominee Bob Scott. They played in front of more than 10,000 people. “We had to set our equipment up on stage and had about five minutes to do it. Then we played, I think, one song and had to get our equipment off stage. It was rush, rush, rush. I didn’t have a rug for my drum, and my drums kept sliding away from me when I was playing because of the bass pedal,” Johnston said. The Downbeats also had the chance to open for Clifford Curry, a famous musician who sang beach, soul and R&B music. They also opened

Downbeats: Reunited

Jones Fuquay

Farmville Magazine 2018

Mike Taylor

Glenn Johnston

Henry D. Jefferson

Frank Jones

Richard “Dick” Anderson


for The Showmen and The Tams. “The things that I remember the most are the bigger names that we played with,� Johnston said. “’The Showmen.’ We were in Oxford or somewhere just outside of Raleigh. We would go out and warm the crowd up. We were in the back room when they arrived in a white Cadillac and had on white boots.� Though the group was widely popular, they never had a plan to become famous. “At the beginning, we weren’t really good or really serious,� Anderson said. Eventually, The Downbeats dissolved, and unlike Yoko Ono, there was no one to blame. Instead, it was the path to success and higher education that caused the band’s demise. The end came in 1969 when band members graduated from high school. “College after we graduated. We went our separate ways, and some haven’t seen each other in 50 years,� Fuquay said. Fuquay is now a retired real estate agent. He resides in Raleigh. Anderson lives in Jacksonville, Fla. He is a retired middle school teacher, principal and a music director. Jefferson is a retired family physician and now lives in Columbia, S.C. Taylor is a retired pharmaceuticals salesman and lives in Raleigh. Johnston, who lives in Greenville, is a retired real estate appraiser. Jones, who resides in Greenville, was the only member of the band who made music a career. He is the owner of Guitars Unlimited and has taught guitar for more than four decades. Jones has been in 30 bands and had the opportunity to play with Ed King, who was a guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Ed King hung around Greenville and mixed with musicians. He played at The Attic. I was probably 45 years his junior, but I was pretty good at rhythm, so they used me as a chord

Jones Fuquay (left) and Henry D. Jefferson were the Paul McCartney and John Lennon of the group and often shared a mic during performances.

guy. I was too young to ever be picked by him. One day I went by the building and it was locked ‌ Three or four months later here comes ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’â€? Jones said. “When I picked up the guitar with these guys, I never put it down. Every dime I ever earned was from the guitar.â€? Since The Downbeats broke up, band members lost touch with each other and most even put down their instruments. That was until a reunion at the Paramount Theater March 25, 2018. The Farmville Community Arts Council sponsored a reunion jam that featured musicians who had ties to the Farmville community with a goal to inspire children and other participants. The Downbeats were included on the list. “We wanted to show what talents there are in Farmville, get people coming to Farmville and ‌ some kids may be inspired to take up an instrument or start a band ‌ like these guys did. Anybody that wanted to get up (on stage)

and play, could,� said Kenny Patterson of the Farmville Community Arts Council. Fuquay, Johnston, Taylor and Jones were all able to attend the event. The members had no idea that they would be asked to play. “We didn’t intend to play any at all. We got surprised by John Moore. He said why don’t you jump up on stage and do a couple of songs. It was very embarrassing. I was not up on anything and wouldn’t even let them plug in my guitar. I looked good, but I sure was faking it,� Taylor said. Johnston added, “It was frightening. I had not owned a set of drums in 48 years, and I hadn’t played drums seriously in that long. It felt good to play with some of the band. ‘Wipe Out’ wiped me out.� After playing an impromptu set of the songs, the present Downbeats members felt the rush of performing all over again. “We were really surprised at the reunion. (People) enjoyed us and applauded and wanted

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Downbeats members (L-R) Henry D. Jefferson, Frank Jones and Jones Fuquay practice at the Paramount Theater in Farmville.

to bring us back,” Fuquay said. Since then, The Downbeats have reunited with the same love for beach music they had when they were teenagers. “To begin with, they weren’t really prepared to play as a group. I think it helped them remember how much fun they had. It was fun seeing an older group get back together,” Patterson said. This time, the band had to get creative with how to include all band members since distance was a problem. Luckily, technology has come a long way since the musicians were in high school. The Downbeats used FaceTime to communicate and practice with Anderson. Despite a problem with lag time, Anderson was still able to sync in perfectly with band members at their first band practice that everyone could attend Aug. 11, 2018. “The only thing they can see is just my face. I didn’t see how my face could help anyone.

Because of the delay, we couldn’t play where they could hear (me play). I could hear them; I could hear me,” Anderson said, adding that an mp3 recording of the band performing helped him practice as well. The band tries to meet face-to-face as often as possible. “It has filled a void that I wasn’t even sure was there,” Fuquay said. Since coming back together, the band has had many moments where they can reflect and reminisce on the past. “It’s hard to describe for me. It’s been constant déjà vu moments,” Anderson said. Johnston added, “One of the neatest things is that it brings back memories. I think it’s great that we are all still alive.” For some, their reunion is one they never thought would happen. “For years, I thought about a reunion with the Downbeats. It never once crossed my mind we would play again,” Jefferson said.

The Downbeats have always prided themselves in being a cover band and never performed any songs written by the band. “It just never crossed our minds,” Anderson said. Since The Downbeats stopped performing, Fuquay has written more than 30 songs he hopes the band will one day play. As for now, The Downbeats are having fun reminiscing and returning to the life of musicians. The band plans to perform a benefit concert for the Farmville Community Arts Council Nov. 11, 2018, at the Paramount Theater. “A couple guys asked what are we doing this for. The past two weeks have kind of gelled how lucky we are to have been raised in Farmville. They supported us, nurtured us, and largely because of that, we became regionally known,” Jones said. “I picked up the guitar and never put it down, as did Dick with being a music director. Music saved my life a couple of nights. Dick and (Fuquay) say the same thing. We’re all very glad and grateful for Farmville.” The Downbeats hope the funds raised at the concert will help the arts council fund a new roof for the Paramount Theater. “People in Farmville give a lot of ways. This is a reflection of that. They’re as much interested in giving back to the community as they are in saying thank you. They have expressed interest in helping the Farmville Community Arts Council,” Patterson said. The Downbeats have also been asked to perform a benefit concert for the Farmville Public Library and play at the All-School Farmville High School Reunion April 26, 2019, at the May-Lew Plantation. “We can’t gig twice a month. We may do it later. These gigs that benefit Farmville every two or three months, that’s what we want,” Jones said.

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Worthy of Preservation Students fight for their Alma Mater



Top: The old H.B. Sugg High School, today’s H.B. Sugg Community Center, closed in 1999 as an elementary school. Above: H.B Sugg.


wo H.B. Sugg High School alumni have taken on the arduous task to have the school recognized by the state and country as worthy of preservation. “Our goal is to have this building designated a historic landmark,” said Gwen Moore, a 1970 graduate. Moore and fellow classmate Carrie Baker initiated the process to have the building listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The register is a list maintained by the National Park Service of buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts that are significant in American history,

architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. The program was created in 1966 to not only recognize historic properties but also to protect them from the effects of federal and state projects, such as highway construction and urban renewal. In North Carolina, the State Historic Preservation Office administers the National Register activities through offices in Asheville, Raleigh and Greenville. Each state has a review and nomination meeting each February, June and October. Farmville Magazine 2018

Class of 1970 graduates Carrie Baker (left) and Gwen Moore reminisce as they thumb through one of many H.B. Sugg scrapbooks compiled by Baker’s son, Dominique.

The process began in August 2016, when Baker submitted an application to be placed on the preliminary study list, which was accepted. The National Register nomination is a scholarly and authoritative document that thoroughly describes and evaluates the property’s setting, physical characteristics, documents its history, assesses its significance in terms of its historical context and demonstrates how it specifically meets the criteria. It requires professional-quality photographs, maps and other materials and information. Therefore, private consultants do the research and prepare most nominations for the National Register. Baker and Moore have employed the services of Mary Ruffin Hanbury of Hanbury Preservation Consulting Firm of Raleigh. After review by the state, qualified nominations are then forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register in the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. There are more than 93,000 listings of historic buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts in the National Register. Today, there are more than 3,000 North Carolina national register listings. Potential entries are evaluated based on the presence and quality of significance in American history, architecture, archaeology and culture. Entries must also possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association with events that have made a Farmville Magazine 2018

significant contribution to the broad pattern of American history or with the lives of significant people, among other criteria. H.B. Sugg High School’s history began in 1903, when Farmville Colored School was started in a makeshift four-room structure, known as the Odd Fellows Hall in Farmville. In 1908, Farmville Colored School was housed in a small two-story, four-room building located on South George Street, known as the Harper Hotel. With the help of the Odd Fellows Benevolent Lodge, a 10-room, two-story framed building was constructed in 1922 on South George Street on a lot beside the Harper Hotel location. In 1936, through the Federal Works Progress Administration Program, a six-room brick building was added. In 1948, the existing 32-room brick building was constructed. That same year, a home economics building and a gymnasium were added, thanks to the generosity of A.C. Monk, a prominent Farmville businessman, who owned a tobacco-processing factory. In 1951, Farmville Colored School was renamed H.B. Sugg High School for grades 1-12. Herman Bryan Sugg served as principal and teacher from 1918-59. When Sugg came to the school, it had four teachers and 156 students. A cafeteria was added to the school in the 1960s. The last all-African-American class to

graduate from H.B. Sugg High School was the Class of 1971. The following year, the school became the integrated H.B. Sugg Elementary School. In 1999, the school closed when Pitt County Schools moved all of Farmville’s schools to a single campus. The building lay dormant until 2002, when it was purchased by Bible Way Holiness Church, who converted it into the H.B. Sugg Community Center it is today. “We bought the school on behalf of the community. That was the focus, the vision to preserve it for the community,” said Joyce Wilkes, the wife of Lonnie Wilkes, the church’s pastor. The historic school is now the home of the H.B. Sugg Community Center, which houses a daycare, food bank and youth programs. Sugg was the son of slaves. His father escaped from slavery to join Gen. William T. Sherman’s Union Army as it marched through North Carolina during the Civil War. The school’s would-be namesake graduated from Lincoln University, which was established in 1854 as the first degree-granting university for African-American males. Other historic associations include awardwinning singer and songwriter Roberta Flack, who taught music at H.B. Sugg in 1959. James Evans, a 1967 graduate, was the first graduate to attend an all-white college — Vanderbilt University. Blenda Gay, Class of 1968, played in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles. Douglas Dupree, Class of 1971, graduated from West Point Military Academy. The physical primary building is 95 years old. The existing building’s exterior is still 60 percent sound and maintains the character of the original structure. The original interior high ceilings and original exterior columns still remain. Scott Power of the State Historic Preservation Office in Greenville is assisting Moore and Baker with the National Register of Historic Places nomination process. “It is a very deserving property,” Power said. “It was the site of an earlier Rosenwald School complex. Those buildings have gone now, but the site is a really great illustration


An ink sketching of H.B. Sugg High School, today’s H.B. Sugg Community Center.

of a mid-20th-century late-consolidation-era school for the African-American community. Architecturally, it illustrates what we consider to be modern school buildings during that time period.” The site is also of historic importance because historic maps show a frame structure was one of the 813 schools in North Carolina built with grant money established by Julius Rosenwald, a Chicago philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck and Co. In 1910, Rosenwald established a fund that provided architectural plans and matching grants that helped build more than 5,300 schools from Maryland to Texas between the late 1910s and 1932. “That earlier Rosenwald School burned, and they built a section close to, if not directly on top of, the site of the earlier Rosenwald,” Power said, adding his office was supplied with detailed information Moore and Baker did not have. “It is clearly an eligible property, even though the gymnasium is not in good condition. It is still there. The gymnasium is the only part of it that has integrity issues just because of the deterioration. It’s still pretty intact; it hasn’t really been changed a lot from its original design.” H.B. Sugg High School’s cultural importance is also sound and worth preserving. It is a community landmark in Farmville’s African-American community. Its existence is the only concrete piece of the neighborhood’s history and heritage. For 95 years, it has identified and defined the cultural life of the community. Supporters of the historic building have ambitious plans to sustain its cultural significance. A community resource development organization hopes to offer numerous community programs, services, resources and referrals to residents in the south side of Farmville. Also planned is a gallery to honor the many professionals who graduated from H.B. Sugg High School, who went on to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, educators, scholars, recording artists and more. “The value of the building goes deeper and wider than just the brick and mortar building,” Moore said. “This has been the hub of the community for so many years. The community is invested in what the school represented in


the past, what it means in the present and how relevant it will be in the future. “Generations of families have tossed their graduation caps with pride when graduation commencement ceremonies were dignified affairs.” After initially meeting with Power, Baker and Moore were spurred on. “We were encouraged. He looked at the history Gwen wrote and said that one piece would do it. That’s when we really got on the ball to get this done,” Baker said. Jesse Harris, a 1964 graduate of the school and the first African-American department head for the city of Greenville, strongly supports the National Register listing. He wants the building preserved as a physical monument and legacy for the generations to come. “I want to see that it’s not torn down and a plaque out there saying, ‘This was the site of H.B. Sugg High School,’ which means absolutely nothing. I want to see the building used. It’s about what this school meant, not only to those who attended, but also what it’s going to mean to my great-great-great-grandchildren. I want my grandchildren to walk past the building and feel proud that this was where their grandfather went and knew he was successful in spite of, not because of. So they know where I came from. That’s significant to the future,” Harris said. “The kids who graduated from here in the

1950s and 60s took the torch of civil rights. Dr. (Martin Luther) King and others started it, but those class members made it work. They were the generation who got us where we are today,” he said. Ingrid Ebron, a dedicated H.B. Sugg Community Center volunteer, was a fifth-grader when the school closed in 1971. “I want to see this building sustain itself financially. I want to see something going on in all 32 rooms and able to expand. To get sustainability, we’ve got to get financing, which we can get from grants if we get approved as a historical site,” Ebron said. “Then people will start supporting us financially. Some people have to see things before they can commit to it. I think once they see things happening and moving, the community will jump in and participate.” Wilkes also believes the historic designation will boost appreciation for the beloved landmark. “The kids of today see the school because it’s a building, but as for appreciating (it’s significance), I don’t think they see that. I think once the school has a complete fix up and more life that flows through here, I think that will open up their eyes,” she said. If listed, H.B. Sugg High School will join two other listings in Farmville, the Historic District and the Benjamin May-Lewis House. There are 30 Pitt County listings on the National Register of Historic Places. Farmville Magazine 2018

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Join us for our 2019 banquet: July 13, 2019 Farmville Central Class of 2018 graduates (L-R) Kaylan Prayer, Mariah Phillips, Nakeya Mercer and (not pictured) Jessyca Nydegger receive Nathan R. Cobb Foundation scholarships.


Bob Crocker, RPh, has been a compounding pharmacist in Farmville since 1976.

Going the Extra Mile Pharmacist, owner of Best Value Drug keeps medicine needs a step ahead. By Amber Revels-Stocks


est Value Drug on Main Street is a Farmville institution, having existed since 1976. “I decided to open my store from scratch on West Wilson Street,” said Bob Crocker, a registered pharmacist and the store’s owner. “My father-in-law and I built our own shelves. … I had a dream and $300 in my checking account.” He moved Best Value Drug into its current building in 1986. “I couldn’t grow because we didn’t have a parking lot,” Crocker said. “I learned how important location is (at the previous location). You could have the greatest business in the world, but if people can’t make it to your business and conveniently, you’re not going to make it.” Best Value Drug was the first pharmacy in the area to provide blood pressure testing, according to Crocker. “You used to have to go to a doctor to get your blood pressure tested,” Crocker said. “We started offering tests on the first Saturday of the


month. … We had people who would come in for years and years on the first Saturday of the month.” Doctors encouraged this because Best Value Drug had better records than their offices. “Doctors would call and ask if we had Mr. Jones’s blood pressure readings over the last year or so, and we did. We could give them that information,” Crocker said. He was also one of the first pharmacists to perform patient consultations. “I’d ask (patients) if they knew, and they wouldn’t have a clue what they were taking or what they were taking it for. I started talking to them and putting on the label what it was and why they were taking it,” Crocker said. “People comply with instructions better if they understand why they’re being told to do it.” Farmville Magazine 2018

Pharmacy technician Britni Camp prepares to enter the clean room. She has to wear a gown, gloves, hairnet, mask and booties.

It confused a few doctors at first, he said. “I’d get phone calls asking, ‘Why are you talking to my patients? That’s almost practicing medicine.’ Almost but not quite,” he said with a laugh. “Now, all the pharmacists (counsel patients) because it benefits the patients and the doctors.” Today, Crocker and Best Value Drug are best known for compounding. Pharmacy compounding is “the art and science of preparing personalized medications for patients,” according to Professional Compounding Centers of America or PCCA. Up until the 1950s, most pharmacists compounded medications specifically for their patients. With the advent of mass manufacturing, it became more difficult and more expensive for pharmacists to compound medications, according to PCCA. “I started compounding when (Best Value) first opened,” Crocker said. “People would die (if we didn’t compound). People need certain things, and if they didn’t get them, they would die. We have people come in all the time that need things they can’t get commercially. “There are people who need B12, for Farmville Magazine 2018

example, that they’re allergic to all the preservatives. They could die if they used (mass market) B12.” Compounding pharmacists can make personalized medicines for patients who need specific strengths, dosage forms, flavors, medication forms or ingredients, according to PCCA. “I had a really bad knee injury, and for about two months, my knee was killing me. My wife kept telling me I was going to have to go to the doctor,” Crocker said. “I had went to a compounding class that had talked about using ibuprofen topically (as a skin cream rather than a pill), and I said, ‘That stuff ain’t going to work. There ain’t no way you’re going to absorb ibuprofen through your skin.’ I decided to try to make some of that stuff and try it on my knee, and when it didn’t work, I was going to go to a doctor and get an injection. I made it and used it all day Sunday, all day Monday. On Tuesday, my wife said, ‘What are you going to do about your leg?’ and I told her, ‘Nothing, I don’t reckon. It ain’t hurting.’ I can’t begin to tell you how many times that same story played out (with others).” Crocker also makes compounds for Vidant

Medical Center on occasion. “About five years ago, they didn’t have any (of a specific medication) and they needed it. I made some for them,” Crocker said. “If things keep on (the way they are now), there’s not going to be anybody that can still make things.” One of the biggest barriers to compounding is that it is no longer taught in pharmacy schools. “Schools don’t teach it much anymore,” Crocker said. “It used to be part of the state board exam (to become a pharmacist). Now it isn’t.” In order to compound, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have to attend special training and be certified, according to PCCA. Most technicians are certified by the National Pharmacy Technician Association to complete non-sterile pharmaceutical compounding and by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board to complete sterile pharmaceutical compounding. They also have to update their certifications periodically to keep up with new information and technology. Non-sterile compounding occurs in a laboratory setting at Best Value Drug. Technicians


(Left) Camp gathers her materials before heading to the hood fan (right) to create an estrogen cream for a patient.

wear gloves to work with materials that are considered non-hazardous. “There’s a hood (fan) for working with powders,” Crocker said. “If we’re working with hormone powder, for example, the hood pulls it up and out of the room.” Sterile compounding occurs in the clean room, a state-of-theart negative pressurized room with high efficiency particulate air or HEPA filters. “Everything is designed to keep contaminants out of the clean room,” Crocker said. “When (the tech) goes in, you can feel the air flow out. The air in the clean room is the cleanest, so the clean room is negatively pressurized so air blows out of the clean room instead of into it.” Technicians also have to wear full-body gowns, gloves, masks, goggles and shoe covers. “We got our clean room about 30 years ago,” Crocker said. “It was one of the first in North Carolina and probably one of the first 100 in the nation. I did it because I wanted to make sure I could make a good quality, strong product.” The Federal Drug Administration or FDA has certain guidelines compounding pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must follow. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lot of compounding pharmacies closing up shop. “The guidelines are so onerous that it’s almost impossible to be compliant,” Crocker said. “(The guidelines) are pretty complex.” When he first started, the guidelines were pretty simple to follow and mostly common sense. However, a meningitis outbreak in 2012 changed all that. The New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts caused a multi-state outbreak of fungal meningitis in three lots of steroid injections, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doses from these lots had been administered to


about 14,000 patients before the fungal growth was discovered. “Fourteen thousand people is not compounding. It’s manufacturing, and it isn’t covered by our licenses and certifications,” Crocker said. “Compounding is individualized medications, not batches.” However, since the New England Compounding Center was listed as a compounding pharmacy, the FDA urged Congress to “strengthen standards for non-traditional compounding,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, the FDA regulations tripled almost over night. “(An outbreak) couldn’t happen here,” Crocker said. “Everything is done for specific patients unless I get a request from the hospital. Even then, most of our compounds have expiration dates long before they actually expire (due to) FDA regulations.” His staff also documents everything they do, no matter how minor, to comply with FDA regulations. During a recent FDA inspection, the inspector informed Crocker of nine items he felt could be handled better. “That’s amazing,” Crocker said. “Normally, they inspect a facility, and they find hundreds of things. To only have nine things, that’s fantastic.” Between the expense and difficulty of following regulations, a lot of pharmacies are moving away from compounding now. “There are very few pharmacies that do sterile compounding any more because the regulations have gotten so onerous it’s almost impossible to be in compliance,” Crocker said. “I only know of three east of Raleigh, including here.” To remain a member of PCCA, Crocker has to follow its regulations in addition to the FDA’s. “It used to be that if you had five people compound a drug with the same requirements, you’d end up with five different end products because each would use a different base or a different salt,” he said. “PCCA has formulations to follow, similar to a recipe Farmville Magazine 2018

when you’re cooking. It’s a step-by-step process for how to fill it.� Best Value Drug compounds between 100 to 200 compounds a week, most of them in the clean room, according to Crocker. They will continue to compound as long as Crocker is the owner. “Patients are the biggest thing. I’m here to help the patients and get them what they need,� he said. “I’m here as their assistant. I’m here to help.� Compounding medications saves lives and solves problems that commercially produced drugs cannot, according to Crocker. “A doctor called me about 30 years ago when I had just put in the clean room. He had a patient that had fallen off a horse when she was 18. She was a paraplegic, and she was on a respirator. She had (a respiratory) infection that he had been treating for like a year and could not clear up. He had tried everything he could think of and was afraid she was going to die. So, I called PCCA and spoke to Dr. Lloyd Allen (a consultant and administrator at the University of Oklahoma School of Pharmacy). He recommended getting the concentration up higher and getting it where it was needed, in the lungs,� Crocker said. Crocker worked on creating a form of the medication she was taking that could be inhaled. “Within three days, the patient was clear of the illness. It cleared right up,� Crocker said. “That’s why I do this. The patients are worth it. Without this, they could die.� Best Value Drug and Compounding, 3708 N. Main St., Farmville, is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call 252-753-2092.

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was not controlled lap lanes.” She completed the race on an “improperly sized” bicycle for her frame, which she had only ridden three times before competing. “I enjoyed it. Not by being great, but by challenging myself,” Phillips said. She caught the tri-bug and competed in several more Olympic and sprint distance triathlons. Then her friends started talking about competing in an Ironman. She thought the idea was “beyond crazy,” and that she would never. Never say never, as the saying goes. In 2015, Phillips competed in the half Ironman in Raleigh. In 2016, she traveled to Cambridge, Md. to compete in her first full Ironman. A full Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. Mother Nature had other plans for Phillips, though. The swim was canceled due to a tropical storm forming, which developed into Hurricane Matthew that hit eastern North Carolina in October 2016. The bike course was shortened, and the run resulted in competitors making their way through knee-deep water. “It was a ridiculous race day,” said Phillips, who crossed the finish line, as torrential rains came down. “There was wind and rain. We went into transition without ever swimming. “We were wet but didn’t swim. When I was in transition for the run, the rain had slacked off a bit, but the river was rising. There were three areas where the width of the course was completely flooded,” she added. The run course was a loop that had to be completed twice. “I had just put on dry socks from the bike to the run, so when I reached the flooded area, I took off my shoes and socks and waded through the waters. The second time, I just ran through it,” Phillips said. It was a one and done thought process, Phillips said. “That lasted eight weeks, and I started asking, ‘I did an Ironman, right?’ It didn’t feel like it,” she said. “At the end of the day, an Ironman is what the day gives you. I trained for all three disciplines and am still an Ironman. They just canceled my swim, and I didn’t do one of the disciplines, so can I really say I’m an Ironman?” Phillips did not feel like a complete Ironman, so in September 2017 she traveled

Triathlete Rebecca Phillips cycles and runs in the Chattanooga, Tenn. Ironman.

All about the challenge Rebecca Phillips never dreamed she would one day be an Ironman, but several years, trials and triumphs later, she reached that "incredible" and personal finish line. By ANGELA HARNE


ith some free time on her hands after completing graduate school in 2011, Rebecca Phillips’ friend, a triathlete, encouraged her to compete in a triathlon. A triathlon consists of swimming, biking and running. A competitive swimmer when she was younger, Phillips admits she could not run more than five minutes straight, and she did


not own a bicycle. Despite the challenges ahead, Phillips agreed to complete an Olympic triathlon in her hometown of Kerr Lake. The race consisted of an open water swim in the lake. “It was my first time doing an open water swim,” Phillips said. “I was freaking out. There was a massive wave of people competing. It Farmville Magazine 2018

Farmville Magazine 2018

Ironman Rebecca Phillips (second from right) celebrates her huge accomplishment as an Ironman with fellow triathletes and Tricedibles, a triathlon group based in Pitt County.

to Chattanooga, Tenn. to compete in her “first/second” Ironman. “I can do this,” Phillips said of her mindset going into the Ironman. “At the end of training, I was ready to be done. Two straight years of training does a lot on your body, spirit and soul.” Her first “true” Ironman experience began at 3 a.m. and ended around midnight when she returned to her hotel. “It is dark when you start and dark when you end,” Phillips said. “Your emotions don’t match. I was excited and nervous, confident and worried. They were conflicting. You beat yourself up and wonder, ‘can I do it?’ despite the confidence you have in all the training you’ve done.” The environment has a lot to do with race day, according to Phillips. Case in point: Cambridge, Md. “Tennessee was a good day. It was not extremely hot or warm,” she said. “I didn’t have any physical ailments. I had a minor injury in my right leg, but it held up pretty good. You can only be prepared but so far. If the weather is good, you just hope your body holds up.” And hold up it did. Phillips crossed the finished line with a time of 13:39.

Phillips remembers nearing the finish line. “You had to run over a bridge. I could see the finish line and hear everyone cheering, but I never thought I would get to the carpet, but when you’re done, you feel accomplished,” she said. In the Ironman series, each competitor’s name is announced over the PA system stating, “Rebecca Phillips, you are an Ironman.” “There is nothVoice of the Ironman ing like hearing your name,” Phillips said with a smile. “Being called an Ironman is pretty cool. It is pretty incredible.” Making Phillips’ experience even more memorable was getting to high-five Mike Reilly at the start. Reilly has completed more than 100 Ironman races and is the “voice of the Ironman.” He has been announcing the events since the late 1970s. “When you realize you’re done, it is awesome. I let it soak in, looking at my friends

“Rebecca Phillips, you are an Ironman.”

– Mike Reilly,


Rebecca Phillips transitions from an open water swim to the bike leg in the Chattanooga, Tenn. Ironman.

and teammates and the 24-plus friends I made throughout the day,� she said. “That is the fun of a race day — making friends and celebrating with them.� The swim leg is the most natural part of a triathlon for Phillips. At Chattanooga, she had a “comfortable� start in the open water. “That leg was strong. I just had to hold on throughout the rest. I had made progress biking and running. After my first ride, I said I was not getting back on the bike. That was a 20-mile ride,� she said with a laugh. “It was uncomfortable. It was painful. I swore I would never get back on.� Again, never say never. Her friends and fellow triathletes bribed her with food to get back on the bike.

Cupcakes were typically offered at the end of a ride, she said. “Keep buying food, and I’ll get back on,� Phillips said with a smile. “Our rides are centered around food. Yoder’s. Tacos. Popsicles.� Training for the Cambridge Ironman was hard, Phillips admits. “You feel like you’re starving. I went to a nutritionist to make sure I was getting enough calories,� she said. She completed workouts twice a day throughout the workweek. Weekends consisted of long runs, swims and bike rides. “It is amazing what you can train your body to do as long as you have the mindset,� she said. “You should want to do it

with a goal to finish. Finishing should be the No. 1 goal.� Phillips is forever grateful to her family and friends for their constant support. “Training consumes your entire life,� Phillips said. “Your friends and family are training with you. They are supporting you, feeding you and encouraging you. It reminds you that you can do it.� Phillips has enjoyed her year off with no training. She plans to compete in several Olympic triathlons in the future, along with a half Ironman or two. Phillips, a native of Kerr Lake, resides in Farmville. She is the coordinator of aquatics at Vidant Wellness Center and a graduate of East Carolina University.

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