"Village complex sold" was a headline in the July 31, 1980, Northfield News -- 25 years ago.

The story stated, "Norm Telander and Lawrence Chuck' Stangler, owner-operators of the Village Drug, have sold the Village Pharmacy-Bridgeman's complex to Bill Soderlund of Isanti. Soderlund will assume ownership on Aug. 1.

"Soderlund, 42, has been a pharmacy manager for the past 17 years with Target," the story continued. "For the past 12 years he has worked in the company's Fridley store."

Soderlund, who still lives in Northfield community, was born and grew up in north Minneapolis. He graduated from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy in 1960, then served in the U.S. Army for two years as a pharmacy officer.

Although he was pleased with his job at Target, he always had the urge to own his own store. When a wholesaler told him that Village Drug in Northfield was for sale, he arranged to buy the business.

A year later, Soderlund joined the group of independent drug store owners who bought from the Snyder company and he changed the name of the store to Village Snyder Drug.

In order to make that change, he discontinued his relationship with Bridgeman's whose ice cream and lunch shop occupied half of the store space. He needed the space to stock drug items available through Snyder. He also installed equipment necessary to offer one-hour photo finishing.

Soderlund said that his new relationship with Snyder's was basically an agreement to purchase Snyder products. He said that he would be able to offer much better prices than before.

In 1986 Soderlund bought the Snyder drug store in St. Peter which is now owned by a son.

In the early 1990s Soderlund caused a ripple in Northfield when he discontinued the sale of tobacco-related products. His adherence to his values caused him to be praised in the community.

Soderlund at about the same time said that he had been swept up in a "dog-eat-dog" kind of competition and that he had decided that trying to operate in a Christian manner was "more important than selling toothpaste." He added, "I'm here to provide the best service that I can, to meet my obligations to my employees and my suppliers, to do it in a Christian manner.'"

In 1995 Soderlund changed his Northfield store into a Valu-Rite store. He began a period of remodeling the store, expanding the compounding area. He and his son Patrick began to customize medicines for people whose needs were not being met by premanufactured drug products.

For instance, cancer patients whose digestive systems were disrupted by treatment, also people who were having difficulty swallowing might be better served by a suppository rather than a traditional oral pain medicine. Children might be allergic to the medium carrying an antibiotic or they might not be willing to tolerate the flavor of a medicine. The Soderlunds were able to deal with those problems.

The Soderlunds' custom compounding caught the attention of the Minnesota Vikings. The team used a transdermal gel compounded by the Soderlunds to administer an anti-inflammatory medicine to aching knees and joints.

Soderlund learned how to compound when he went through pharmacy school in the 1950s. But when Patrick went through school in the 1980's, it was no longer being taught. Therefore many pharmacists did not know how to compound medicine, others considered it too much work, Soderlund said.

In November of 1997, Soderlund sold the Northfield store to a Peterson family that also owned stores in Lakeville, Cannon Falls and Plainview.

After selling the store, Soderlund decided he did not want to be "retired" and he has engaged in pharmaceutical relief work. He has worked some days at the Peterson drug store at Cannon Falls. He works some days at his son's store at St. Peter.

But the Soderlunds have also enjoyed traveling since the store was sold. They have been to Ireland twice, have traveled to Sweden and to Canada. They have also attended elderhostels and they spend time with their 21 grandchildren.

Their five children all live nearby, two of their three daughters residing in the Northfield area. One daughter, in fact, lives next door to the Soderlunds. All of the children are engaged in some kind of work that assists with the health of others.

Soderlund recalled that when he was a child, an aunt who was an assistant in a pharmacy used to take him to her shop on Saturdays. He can still remember the odors of the old fashioned drugs. But he doesn't think those experiences had anything to do with his choice of career. In fact, for a while as a teen, he considered dentistry.

But he liked chemistry very much and an uncle of Joan, his wife, was a pharmacist and highly respected in her family.

He and Joan began dating when they were in high school and were married in 1959.

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