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Eleftherios 41 and Arthur 42 Vozeolas - The Family Business

Eleftherios (El) ’41 and Arthur ’42 Vozeolas were raised into the world of pharmacy.

11/25/2011

Eleftherios (El) ’41 and Arthur ’42 Vozeolas were raised into the world of pharmacy as their family business. Their father George, a 1907 MCP alumnus, grew up in Vourila, a small Greek village, in what today would be considered a suburb of Sparta. George became an apprentice at an apothecary in Sparta at the age of 14, and he loved the work. When he emigrated to America, he had already determined his career path.  In 1895, George arrived in Lowell, Massachusetts where he worked in the mills and later secured a job at Faulkner Drug. Only five years after arriving in the U.S., George Vozeolas became the first Greek immigrant to open a pharmacy in the U.S., according to his son El. George hired pharmacists to work for him and began his studies in Boston as an observation student at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. George passed his exams and was registered in Massachusetts in 1907.

El grew up working in his father’s store, as did Arthur, their sister Ismene and many friends and family. As respected professionals within the community, pharmacists were routinely called upon for advice and assistance. El recalls an instance when his father refused to fill a prescription that he felt was the wrong medication for the patient. The pharmacy hosted high blood pressure and diabetes clinics long before they became common in contemporary society. George routinely tested the composition of olive oil samples to ensure that his customers weren’t being cheated by suppliers. El remembers that customers waited in line for George to swab their sore throats and remove wax from their ears. He fondly recalls his father saying, “Pay me when you feel better” when he knew that his patients were in difficult financial circumstances. And up until the year he died in 1965, at the age of 92 years, George Vozeolas was still providing these services at his Market Street store in Lowell. 

This model of extreme patient care influenced El and Arthur to follow their father into pharmacy. They learned, firsthand, that pharmacy was a business in which you could make a difference by caring for people. Hard work was their legacy; at 12 years of age, El was working in the drugstore. During the summer he worked as a candy maker at Nantasket Beach. The brothers enjoyed photography and began to make 8mm family movies with a borrowed camera – a hobby that El and Arthur continued until 1965. El joined ROTC and rose to the rank of Captain Adjutant by the time that he reached his senior year in high school. He entered MCP in 1937 where he joined the MCP Orchestra and hosted a weekly radio program from Lowell on WLLH - AM. El and Arthur also were both fascinated with the capabilities of the film medium. To gain experience with the technology, they recorded several of Dr. Howard Reed’s educational exhibitions such as the “fish bowel.”  

After graduation from MCP, the brothers followed their father into his profession. They worked in drug stores and later opened their own “Galen Drugs” in 1963, located next to the first Market Basket supermarket, located on Dummer Street in Lowell. As a result, they became fast friends with Mike DeMoulas the son of the founder of the supermarket chain, and opened another drug store next to the Market Basked located in Salem, New Hampshire in 1969. As a loyal son of Lowell, El served on many voluntary boards and commissions to promote the importance of health practices that would lead to a better standard of living. El also served as a member of the Lowell Welfare Board, Health and Welfare Committee and the Rehabilitation Committee on Drug Addiction. El believed in citizen involvement, a tenet that led him to repeatedly lobby on the state level for pharmacy-related legislation.  

Despite all of their professional and volunteer interests, the brothers remained fascinated by the burgeoning motion picture industry. The Vozeolas Brothers continued to shoot film, and formed Nepro Studios Inc. for the purpose of making movies while still owning the drug stores. They produced a two-hour color film entitled “Mr. and Mrs. Lowell.” The movie premiered in the “kool-aired” L.G.M. Memorial Theater in Lowell in 1947 (standard price for a ticket was 65 cents including tax).  Nepro Studios followed up this success and began to film a musical entitled “They All Began to Sing.” Their sound film recorder had previously been used by Cecil B. Demille to film a motion picture in Asia.  Unfortunately, labor-related difficulties with the New York Musicians Union would curtail progress of the project and would eventually end production prior to completion.  

El moved to Cape Cod at 73 years of age but did not retire from his pharmacy practice until he was 85.  El maintains his pharmacy license, but does not practice his profession. Instead he pursues other passions including boating and computers. El organized Computers for Seniors to help seniors living on Cape Cod become more comfortable with computers. He is very active at the Hyannis Yacht Club and helped to organize a dispensary in Hyannis that serves various local institutions. Arthur retired to Florida and passed away in 2006. El says today he has had many wonderful, exciting and some sad memories, many of them woven into the fabric of MCP. He says he even got involved in local political fights …but that would be another story.