Living the Faith: Robert “Doc” Cousins

 

Who are you? Parishioner of Our Lady of the Rosary since 1953 and owner of De Blanc Pharmacy in New Orleans since 1961. Graduate of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Elementary in New Orleans, Holy Cross High (1955) and Loyola University’s School of Pharmacy (1960). Married to Janet Cousins for 51 years. They have two children and five grandchildren.

How did you get into the pharmaceutical profession? “I got a job working as a delivery boy for De Blanc when I was 15. The owner (of De Blanc) at the time, Louis Muller, encouraged me to continue with it and to go to pharmacy school at Loyola. There were only 13 of us in our class. We had so few people, they were able to put us through more classes – one semester we took 26 hours. We were given a Ph.D. because of the number of classes we took.”

 

How did you become owner of De Blanc? After graduation, Cousins worked at Albert and Wegmann, the state’s largest pharmacy at the time. When Muller, Cousins’ mentor and former boss, decided to leave New Orleans, he sold De Blanc to his 24-year-old protégé. Cousins operated De Blanc at its original location on Ponce de Leon Street for 20 years before moving the business to its current location at Grand Route St. John and Esplanade Avenue in 1981. 

 

Why do you love your job? “I’ve done it so long because I’ve been associated with some great people,” said Cousins, who is known for always having an enthusiastic crew of young people working alongside him. “Working with teenagers and people in their early 20s always gives you a little more energy, and I’ve had very little problems over the years dealing with them. They’re easy to get along with.” Cousins’ mentoring has inspired 30 of his employees to become pharmacists themselves.

 

What might people not know about your field? “You have to have compassion for the people you deal with. You have to understand that sometimes they can’t afford their medicine, and they need you to help them figure out what they can do. Sometimes that means giving them (a portion of their prescribed medication) until their paycheck comes. They’ve taken the first step by going to the doctor; we’ve got to help them continue on.”

 

What do you remember about your early days at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish? “Bishop (L. Abel) Caillouet (pastor from 1951-75) would have the most foreboding looks on his face, especially if you were doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing, but he had a heart of gold. He would call me (at the pharmacy and say), ‘I’m sending someone over who can’t afford their medication – charge it to me.’ Then he’d call Liuzza’s (Restaurant) and tell them, ‘Give the kid a sandwich, but don’t give him any alcohol.’”

 

What guides your faith? “I say a rosary every morning, before I go to work – I try to do that to the best of my ability.” 

 

How would you define your calling? “My idea is that God has put me here so people can get the medicine they truly need.”

 

Interviewed by Beth Donze

 

To nominate a candidate for “Living the Faith,” e-mail clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

 
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