Peter Francis Dennis served the Gunnedah community as a pharmacist for 45 years - along the way he became a confidante and friend to many families who were his customers.
Mr Dennis retired in February 2001 after decades of care and compassion for the people of Gunnedah and his death on Remembrance Day last year, at the age of 88, was met with regret from a wide cross section of the community, with St Joseph's Catholic Church overflowing for the farewell Mass on November 23.
A year on, another Gunnedah man with strong connections to the medical fraternity has written a heartfelt poem he has asked to share with the community.
Dr Rupert Edwards, the son of Dr Roger Edwards, who was a GP in Gunnedah and provided great medical service to the community for more than four decades, spent his early years in Gunnedah, before boarding at Knox Grammar in Sydney, and studying Medicine at Sydney University.
Peter Dennis' son Chris, described his friend as "a great physician".
"Many famous people, friends and colleagues became Rupert's patients over the years, including my father," he said in a letter to the NVI last week.
"Rupert and I worked together at Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney for many years and have become great friends, Chris Dennis wrote.
"Last month around the first anniversary of my father's death Rupert wrote a short poem about PFD and sent it to me - I thought the readers of the Namoi Valley Independent might enjoy reading it."
Was it Conadilly or Marquis?
I cannot be sure
Where Peter F. Dennis attended his store
Dispensing with kindness and skill
Potions and pills to those who were ill.
But much more was this man
In ways so long lost
When service and trust was not an impost
A good Labor man without thought for himself
Who worked for the people
Not only their health.
How sad would he be now he has gone
To learn dealers not leaders
Fail to move things along
In ways that are just
And equal and right
Respecting the meek
As well as the chic.
So farewell to an era
In that small country town
Where mining for coal
Raises many a frown
But Peter F. Dennis whilst downing a beer
Would say 'jobs for our boys are secure'
... and then cheer.
Peter Dennis spent the last few years of his life in care at the McAuley Wing of Mackellar Care. He was a man of great faith and a staunch advocate for the worker through the Labor Party.
Born In Tamworth, Peter Dennis graduated as a pharmacist in 1952. He married Merle Wilson in 1954 and took over Junor's Pharmacy in Gunnedah in 1955. The couple raised four children - Christopher, Sean, Maria and Patricia.
Over the years, he was heavily involved in community groups, serving as foundation president of the Lions Club of Gunnedah in 1958. He was foundation vice-president of Gunnedah Junior League, district chairman of the Royal Blind Society, chair of the Gunnedah Housing Commission Advisory Board, and the inaugural chairman of the Gunnedah Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Peter Dennis served on Gunnedah Municipal Council from 1968 to 1979 and was the No.1 advocate for a merger between the two Gunnedah councils.
His professional involvement included his role as foundation chairman of advertising/marketing group of the former Norpharm, board member of the NSW Pharmacy Marketing/Advertising Group (Thrift Chemist), foundation co-ordinator of Pro-Chem Pharmacy Buying Group and a member of the Pharmacy Guild for 11 years.
Mr Dennis was the longest serving president and life member of the North West Pharmacists Association and a member of the NSW Health Advisory Council to the Minister for Health.
Local and former residents took to social media after the death of Peter Dennis to express their gratitude and admiration for the man who was not just a pharmacist but a generous and supportive friend to many.
One comment noted "years of kindness to my mum when she was raising us when we were kids. We will always have fond memories Peter F."
"Peter helped me at my lowest and I have never forgotten his kindness" was another comment, with another expressing his gratitude for "support when growing up and assisting me with charity work."
Other comments reflected the high esteem in which he was held:
"Mr Dennis has been a constant that many small towns miss out on ... I loved his passion for community and boxing and the short chats I had about his business... I feel lucky to have known him. I would like to thank him for supporting our family for all those years... RIP Mr Dennis, you were a good one."
"What a wonderful man you were Mr Dennis, always loved to chat and nothing was a bother to him, professionally you helped so many over the years that could never be forgotten - rest easy with all your Labor supporters ."