BR man who helped start charity pharmacy dies at 83

Howard Bolton, the driving force behind the first free pharmacy in the state along with a host of charitable deeds in a life of public service spanning decades, died Friday at Baton Rouge General Health Center.

He was 83.

Ricky Lane, Bolton’s son-in-law, said the last sound Bolton, an avid LSU sports fan, heard Friday was the LSU-Alabama baseball game on TV in his hospital room.

“Not a better way for him to go out,” Lane said.

Bolton graduated from the Loyola University College of Pharmacy in 1952 after attending Baton Rouge High School and was a pharmacist in the Air Force for four years, daughter-in-law Donna Bolton said Sunday.

After leaving the Air Force, he opened Bolton’s Pharmacy on Perkins Road in 1962, where he worked until 1992 when he sold it to two employees who continue to run it to this day, she said.

After retiring, he volunteered at numerous charitable organizations, including the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Kiwanis Club.

For his charitable work, he received the 63rd Golden Deeds Award in 2004 from the Inter-Civic Council of Baton Rouge and The Advocate.

He also served as executive director of the Louisiana Board of Pharmacy until 1997.

One of his proudest accomplishments came in 1995 when Bolton helped St. Vincent de Paul establish a free pharmacy for the needy, Donna Bolton said.

Michael Acaldo, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul, worked with Bolton to create the pharmacy.

“He is one of those people when you meet him you are impressed by his generosity and kindness in spirit,” Acaldo said.

Acaldo said the program filled $75,000 in prescriptions during its first year and $3.1 million in prescriptions last year.

Lisa Hubble worked with Bolton at St. Vincent de Paul and said he performed charity work out of the spotlight.

“His heart showed in every single action the man did,” she said. “I don’t know if the word volunteer was big enough for him.”

Bolton and another Kiwanis member started a program called “Teach a Kid to Fish.” They purchased several rods and reels, bought lunch and made a day of it for children who may not ever before have left their neighborhoods.

The program continues to this day, his family said.

Bolton’s volunteering included work for the Council on Aging, Louisiana War Veterans Home, St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall, St. Francis House and the Holy Grill. He served on the board of directors for Hospice of Baton Rouge, the Greater Baton Rouge Cancer Society and the Capitol Area Council on Pharmaceutical Education.