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Former Thrifty White owner retires after 35 years

Diane Peters stands at a Thrifty White Drug counter Thursday. Peters, the former owner of Thrifty White, was set to retire the following day. Photo by Zach Kayser

After nearly 35 years as a pharmacist in Wadena, Diane Peters retired from Thrifty White Drug this week, she said Wednesday.

Originally from South Dakota, Peters said she graduated from South Dakota State University in 1978 with a degree in pharmacy. That same year, she moved to Wadena to be with her new husband, Dave, who had already helped set up what was then a Snyder Drug.

Along with her husband, Diane worked with owner Ron Schwartzwald until May 1994, when she and Dave bought the store. The Peters changed the store from Snyder Drug to Thrifty White Drug around 2006, and eventually sold it into Thrifty White corporate ownership in 2010.

Although she was one of the first female pharmacists in Wadena, Peters said she doesn't think about the full weight of that groundbreaking role because of the equality in gender representation the industry as a whole has achieved while she's been a pharmacist.

"More and more so, it's becoming (that) there's more women in the field of pharmacy than men, I think, or it's about 50/50," Peters said.

Peters added that her favorite thing about working during those three decades was the people.

"We've gained a lot of friendships, just meeting people through the pharmacy and the drugstore," Peters said.

Indeed, Peters' coworkers were sorry to see her go. Jill Westra, a pharmacy tech at Thrifty White, had deep praise for Peters.

"It's not going to be the same without her. She's been like a sister to me," Westra said.

Betty Schlepp, a sales associate at Thrifty White who has been there nearly as long as Peters, felt the same.

"She deserves it, but we're going to really miss her," Schlepp said.

Peters said her future plans include focusing more on community involvement. She has already served as a director of the Miss Wadena Pageant, talent chair for the Empty Stocking drive, a member of the local Women of Today group and a member of the Wadena County Health Advisory Board.

"(I'll) just work a lot, wherever I'm needed," Peters said.

Peters is not leaving Thrifty White completely - she will still come in occasionally as an on-call pharmacist, she said.