A Tribute to Mr. Claud Derbes

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IMG_8481bBy Mia Freneaux;  Photo by Jill Miller
When Claud Derbes sold his drug store in December of last year, a chapter closed in Central’s history.  When he and his brother Pete bought the business from Herman Stroderd in the 1990’s, national chain drug stores were devouring the independent pharmacies.  Mr. Claud stayed open and prospered through his knowledge, hard work, and simple compassion for people.  “If anyone needed medicine and couldn’t afford it, he gave it to them,” Business Manager Jill Miller shared, “At the end of the day, that’s why he felt he was there.  It was never about the money, especially when it came to kids.”
Mr. Claud also knew that supporting the community that supported you was key to success.  “He sponsored  countless  children’s teams in every sport,” reminisced Janice Derbes, his wife. “They gave me all of the plaques he had hanging in the store – there are so many.”  In keeping with his devotion to children, Mr Claud was also a firm supporter of the incorporation of the City of Central which led to the formation of the Central Community School System.  He also sponsored the Central High School football broadcasts and weekly radio show with Coach Sid Edwards.  Jill remembered how the employees at the drug store would raise money to do Secret Santa gifts for needy children and Mr. Claud would match whatever they raised.  “I remember one year we did it for two little girls who had lost their mother,  another year it was for two high school students whose mother had died of cancer.  He was always looking out for the good of others, he put himself last every time.”
Mrs. Derbes fondly recalled how Mr. Claud would store baked goods for Cooking in Central and other fairs.  “He couldn’t believe that so many ladies in Central could bake,” she laughed as she remembered the store getting inundated with hundreds of pies and cakes.  Mr. Claud was also one of the first members of the Central Area Business Association, later the Chamber of Commerce.  He served many times on its Board and was a familiar sight at the monthly luncheons.  His first thought was always for his customers.  Mrs. Derbes remembered when hurricanes would come through Mr. Claud would rush to have an electrician friend fire up his generator so he could open the store.  “We would be without power at home, but he would make sure he could be open to fill his customer’s needs,” she shared with humor.   Jill laughed, “I remember after Hurricane Gustav we were working in the store and we all started to feel ill.  It turned out Mr. Claud had the generator running in the kitchen without enough ventilation.  We almost gave our lives for our customers that day!”
Mr. Claud always believed in helping those who were trying to better themselves.  “He wouldn’t charge for faxes if folks were sending in resumes,” said Jill, “After the flood of 2016, he wouldn’t charge folks if they were faxing flood-related documents.”  “Twenty years in the business, he never took a raise,” Mrs. Derbes stated proudly, “He was never in it for the money.”  Even in his last weeks of life, his thought was always with his store.  Mrs. Derbes said, “He would be lying in bed and saying, ‘Come on, come on –we have to go to the store!  I’ve got to see everybody.’  It was ingrained in his brain to the last day.”  “You can’t put a price on the impact he had on this community, “ shared Jill, “It is extremely important to me we continue to do what he always did, and this is what the new owners desire to do as well.  He wasn’t just my boss, he was my family.  Everything I learned about the Pharmacy Business and Life I learned from him. He taught us all the importance of being compassionate.   He was just a sweetheart.”

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