Born in Memphis in 1930, the number of people Dr. Charles A. Champion befriended during his life’s journey would be difficult to calculate. Any number any one person comes up with could easily be increased by one more.
Dr. Champion made serving the community and developing products that promote healing with natural ingredients his life’s work. He died Saturday (Jan. 21).
“We mourn his departure but celebrate his incredible life and legacy,” his family said in a released statement. “He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Dr. Champion spent his career creating and providing remedies to treat many common illnesses. His dedication and love for people and his community were evident in his work.”
Champion’s Pharmacy and Herb Store, 2369 Elvis Presley Blvd., long has been the center of a community orbit anchored by Dr. Champion, who had the enviable quality of leaving the individuals he met with the sense that he appreciated their uniqueness as part of the whole.
A 1955 graduate of Xavier University College of Pharmacy, he was drafted into the U.S. Army shortly after obtaining his degree. He served as a pharmacist in Germany during a two-year tour of duty. Back in Memphis, he began working at John Gaston Hospital’s pharmacy, solidifying his place in history as the first African-American pharmacist to work in a Memphis hospital.
After 12 years at John Gaston, Dr. Champion took a job at Katz Drug Store and became the first African-American pharmacist hired by a chain in the city.
Champion’s Pharmacy and Herb Store is a family business established by Dr. Champion and his wife, Carolyn Bailey Champion, in 1981. The Champions married in 1958. She is the daughter of Walter and Loree Bailey, who were the owners of the Lorraine Hotel when Dr. Martin Luther King was fatality shot on a balcony there on April 4, 1968.
Two of Champions’ daughters, Carol Champion (also known as Cookie) and Charita Champion, become pharmacists. Their late daughter, Chandra Champion, served as a pharmacy tech and her daughter, Jessica Champion, stepped in to assist with business operations.
Services are pending.
For more about Champion’s Pharmacy and Herb Store, visit www.championsherbstore.com.)