Gordon Tweit "His passion for the pharmacy and of the community made him a remarkable source of information for generations of residents."
The Bellingham Herald
He photographed generations of trick-or-treaters and shared his love of Fairhaven history
Gordon Tweit, the longtime, gentlemanly owner of Fairhaven Pharmacy who left a legacy of community service and a love of local history died Dec. 22, 2019. He was 92.
A lifelong bachelor, Tweit grew up in Fairhaven and Happy Valley. His willingness to help others – from delivering prescriptions to people’s homes, to posting store-window photographs of costumed children at Halloween, to sharing his knowledge of Whatcom County history and his museum-like collection of artifacts in the pharmacy’s basement – created a deep wellspring of regard for Tweit throughout the community.
His passion for the pharmacy and of the community made him a remarkable source of information for generations of residents, said Brian Griffin, who has written books about the area, including "Fairhaven, a History. ”I never saw him but friendly with everyone he met,” Griffin said.
Generations of pharmacy owners
Fairhaven Pharmacy was Tweit’s base of operations in south Bellingham, at a time when independent pharmacies were common and customer service was paramount.
The business was established in 1889 as D.P. Mason Drug and soon evolved into Fairhaven Pharmacy. It was in a couple of south Bellingham locations before settling in 1929 at its last location at 12th Street and Harris Avenue. Tweit began work there as a delivery boy in 1941. He graduated from the University of Washington School of Pharmacy and owned the business from 1962 until 1991, when he sold it to Robin Johansen, who also got his start as a delivery boy.
During his years overseeing the pharmacy, widows came to Tweit for help and advice, and his refrigerator was stocked with fresh seafood that fishermen brought him, free of charge, when they came into port.
Tweit retired in April 2008, but still did odd jobs, such as taking out the trash, sweeping the sidewalk, and creating themed displays for the pharmacy’s front windows. Johansen closed the business in October 2015.
A former customer recalled a time in the late ’60s when she had a terrible cough and her husband woke Tweit up at 2 a.m. to see if he would open the pharmacy and provide medicine for his wife. Tweit has happy to oblige. "He didn’t even think twice about it, "
For some four decades, starting in the mid-’60s, Tweit was widely known for snapping photographs of children in their Halloween costumes and taping the photos to the pharmacy’s window. The kids could come by later and take the photos home for free.
Tweit’s museum-quality collection of early pharmaceuticals, Fairhaven memorabilia, doctors’ tools, and other odds and ends filled the pharmacy’s basement, attracting tour groups and community members alike.
In 2013, Bellingham painter Lanny Little, left, added Gordon Tweit to the outdoor mural that Little had painted 13 years earlier at Fairhaven Village Green.Little later turned to videography and produced a 20-minute documentary about Tweit, called "Gordie’s World.”
Other items in his vast collection included salmon cans with old labels from long-ago canneries, plus cameras, sheet music, cosmetics and razors, items that pharmacies sold years ago, along with medicine and first aid supplies.
Until limited by poor health, Tweit opened the collection to the general public on Friday afternoons, helping students, researchers and friends find nuggets of local history in photos, yearbooks, city directories, photo binders, and memories from his long, active life in Bellingham.
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