When I was very young and growing up at our Wentworth Avenue home the name "Arnie Smith" enjoyed legendary status.
Arnie was my dad's pharmacist. Originally, he worked out of a small storefront on Côte Saint-Luc Road near Randall and later took over the Pharmaprix at Cavendish Mall (now Quartier Cavendish). To my dad, Arnie was like a doctor. No matter what ailment hit a member of our family, dad would say, "We better go see Arnie Smith."
I can remember dad walking down the aisle at the Pharmaprix and asking Arnie to examine his eye. And he did.
Last year Arnie and his wife Frances became constituents of mine when they moved into a condo on Marc Chagall Avenue. Arnie was so happy with his new home. Sadly, he did not get to enjoy it for very long. He passed away on Saturday, March 9.
Even well after Arnie sold the pharmacy, he was still very active behind the counter and up and down the aisles. My dad passed away just over six years ago and until his final days he always put his faith in the Smith team. David Banon and his wife Sarah Ettedgui are the present-day owners of the Pharmaprix at Cavendish (as well as Caldwell) and they indeed carry on the same special relationship with clients Arnie did.
Arnie sat near me at Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc during the high holidays and he was always eager to know what was new in our community.
"I go back with Arnie 62 years. ago when we were both working at Phillips Drug Store in Park Ex.," said his former colleague Simon Shatzky. "Arnie was just not a pharmacist, but he was a human being in every respect.He did not have a bad bone in his body.He was a kind, generous, understanding, sympathetic and patient person."
Added Hampstead Town Councillor Harvey Shaffer: "He was a gentleman and mensch in regards very sense of those words. He was kind and considerate, always willing to do whatever he could to help his numerous customers.Arnold was the pharmacist of pharmacists. He always went the extra mile."
Rhona Elias said she and her husband George go back with Smith for more than 40 years. "He was always available to answer any question and never too busy to stop what he was doing to give you his attention. A true mensch; always so warm and kind."
Educator Dr. Shimshon Hamerman commented: "What a sad day to learn that a sweet, gentle and kind man has left us. Arnold was an institution in Côte Saint-Luc and Hampstead. He was the go to person at Randall Pharmacy when someone could not get to see a doctor. He helped and healed hundreds of people. Always a kind word; always a smile; always polite--that was Arnie."
CSL Men's Club president and retired pharmacist Mannie Young remarked: "I have lost my mentor, my teacher, my friend. Arnie was the pharmacist who taught me the art of listening to the customer's needs above all else. We go back to Randall Pharmacy. He was a true mensch, always ready to go above and beyond to satisfy. I will truly miss him. "
Fred Goltz, who runs the excellent toy store at Quartier Cavendish, said Smith was his first employer when he was just a kid at Pharmaprix. "Over the years we built up a relationship and even became neighbours up in St Agathe," he noted. " I will so miss my friendly talks with him, be it up north or as he did his walking through the Mall."
Funeral service from Paperman & Sons, 3888 Jean Talon St. W., Montreal, will be on Tuesday, March 12 at 1 p.m. Burial at the Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Congregation Cemetery, Tifereth Jerusalem Section, de la Savane. Shiva at his home from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. daily. Donations in Arnie’s memory may be made to the Scleroderma Research Fund c/o the Jewish General Hospital Foundation, (514) 340-8251.