Stan Papajohn retired from his first career in 1996 after 35 years as a community pharmacist. Now he is hanging up his white coat for the final time after 23 years as a clinical instructor in the College of Pharmacy’s community lab.
Papajohn has always been a stickler for keeping order in the lab. He takes immense pride in ensuring procedures are followed to the letter, yet always with a sense of humor. This will be the first semester in 23 years that first-year student pharmacists will not be greeted in the lab by the “Chair Man.”
“That’s because I always made them put their chairs up,” he says with a chuckle.
The College of Pharmacy recognized Papajohn early in his pharmacy career as its first Preceptor of the Year.
“At that time, as an independent pharmacy, we had one student for four weeks, followed by another,” he says. “Gene Reeder was one of my students. I tell my students to stick with me because you’ll go places!”
Because of his extraordinary efforts in advancing the education, mentoring and career development of student pharmacists, Papajohn was awarded the college’s Distinguished Service Award in May.
With degrees in biology and pharmacy from USC, Papajohn has been devoted to his beloved alma mater and his profession. He is extremely proud that his family has continued that tradition, as nine of his children, grandchildren and their spouses are USC alumni as well.
“As a kid, I was all about the Gamecocks,” he says. “Then as a student, I drew cartoons for Paul Dietzel’s football team and for the college newspaper.”
He also has painted murals for the college, and during COVID-19 shutdowns he created coloring pages for kids to enjoy.
Papajohn has been active in his community. He has sung in his church choir for 72 years. He has designed the T-shirt for Columbia's Greek Festival for more than 30 years. Following the devastating floods of 2015, he helped bring a smile to neighborhood faces by drawing art on the tree trunks left behind when floodwaters receded.
At age 89, Papajohn wants to spend more time with what is most important to him – his family. His father immigrated to the U.S. from Greece, as did his mother’s parents. Papajohn had never visited his homeland until this past June, when his family took him to the Greek islands.
“God has been good to me. I have had so much fun and enjoyed my stay at the university,” he says. “It has been a great journey. I will miss it, but it is time.”