The Campbell University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences family is mourning the loss of our dear friend and colleague, COL Bill Pickard. Over the course of his 40 plus year professional career, very few have contributed more to the pharmacy profession, the community and our country than COL Pickard.
Bill’s professional career formally began in 1976 as a pharmacy resident at Duke Hospital after graduating with a BS in Pharmacy from UNC. Prior to receiving the degree, Bill was a pharmacy technician and medication assistant which laid the foundation for his life of service as a pharmacist. From 1976 to 2006, serving in many different roles, Bill was an important fixture at Duke Hospital. Working as a staff pharmacist, night shift pharmacist, clinical pharmacist, teacher, preceptor, researcher and administrator, Bill interacted with countless colleagues, patients, and students. In 1981, his interest in Infectious Diseases (ID) led him to a unique and first of its kind position as a clinical pharmacist in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at Duke. Rarely had a pharmacist been valued so much for their skills and abilities for them to be employed outside of the pharmacy department, but Bill was such and from 1981 to 2004 he conducted clinical research and provided clinical pharmacy services to the ID and Oncology services at Duke. Throughout all his years in whatever pharmacy environment he was in, Bill was always teaching, mentoring, guiding, and developing students and colleagues of all disciplines.
“Everyone who knew Bill in any capacity can share something enduring and positive he left with them.”
Throughout his career while serving as a pharmacist, Bill also served our country in the Army Reserves. As a pharmacist in the Army Reserves beginning in 1982, he performed many roles but two of the most significant were his active duty role during Operation Desert Storm (1990 – 1991) and as Pharmacy Consultant for Operation Enduring Freedom (2001 – 2002). COL Pickard served as the pharmacy commander over all Department of Defense pharmacies in the war theater over that time period. Prior to that, Bill was a Pharmacy Officer in the Reserve and served in multiple hospital units. His military career did not end in 2002 as he remained active in the Reserves, rising in rank and when called upon to serve, he willingly did as Chief of Pharmacy at Womack Army Medical Center (May 2009 to March 2011) finally retiring from the Army as a full Colonel in 2012 and finishing as Commander of the 3274th US Army Hospital.
For 30 years, coinciding with his professional career as a pharmacist, Bill was able to wear two distinct hats all under the umbrella as a servant leader. Wearing just one of those hats would be enough for one person over the course of a 40 plus year career, but not for Bill. His 3rd call to service was wearing another type of uniform, one as a reserve Deputy Sheriff in Durham, NC. From 1979 to 2018, Deputy Sheriff Pickard was head of the reserve and drug diversion unit, a member of the Search and Recovery Team (SCUBA), and the Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team. He would assist in special events such as the Bahama Christmas parade, and he would be called in to help in times of increased security concerns, such as city-wide protests. COL Pickard’s main function was to be a resource for Drug Diversion working to reduce abuse and misuse of legal prescription drugs. There are many accounts from physicians he has worked with over the years who appreciated his clinical pharmacy expertise, but also his work addressing drug diversion and prescription fraud. Before retiring, COL Pickard rose to be the highest-ranking reserve deputy for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.
Beginning in 2004, Bill moved into various leadership roles at Duke (formerly Durham) Regional Hospital, serving as Director of Pharmacy for two years before moving into an academic role with the Campbell University College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences Department of Clinical Research. It was not long after joining the faculty at Campbell when Bill was called upon to serve in another capacity as Chair of the same department. Bill was the steward of this program, overseeing the growth and expansion of the Bachelor’s and Master’s programs while at the same time moving his department from offices in the Research Triangle Park back to Campbell’s main campus. One major accomplishment over his tenure as program chair was the creation of the online Masters in Clinical Research program, the first online program in the College. After eight years of leading this program, Bill stepped down as Chair and returned to his roots and joined the Department of Pharmacy Practice where he brought his wealth of experience to teaching courses in U.S. Health Care, Personal & Professional Development, Medication Errors, and Pharmacy Operations.
Bill was the definition of a servant leader. As a Christian, COL Pickard served his religious community by teaching Sunday School, a children’s Bible study, and an International Bible Study Fellowship program. As a leader in the Boy Scouts of America, Troop 200, he planned and executed scout meetings. He would often recruit friends and colleagues from his other service roles to help instruct the scouts.
Bill touted that one of the most rewarding activities he did was participating in medical mission trips. He was directly involved in the planning of eight medical mission trips to Honduras for all the health science programs at Campbell University with logistical support from the North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM). These trips (usually 7-10 days) had as their primary role to provide medical and pharmaceutical care to the people of Honduras. One of Bill’s primary goals for these mission trips was to engage other faculty and students to go with him or to undertake other mission trips on their own. Over the years, a number of students from Campbell (pharmacy and other health science programs) have gone on this mission trip, returning with wonderful stories of faith and compassion often leading them to continue their own mission work after graduation serving as preceptors for other students.
In 1991, Bill married Allison Hunt, a Oncology nurse at Duke Hospital and they had two children, Ashley and Owen. Bill was a devoted family man and anyone who knew him knew of his love and pride he had for his wife and children! The expression “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” may be a cliché, but in the case of the Pickard family, it is manifested in their children. Ashley enlisted into the United States Army Reserves in 2014 as a patient administration soldier and currently serves as a Specialist. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Ashley joined the Durham Police Academy and is now an officer for the Durham City Police Department. Owen joined the ROTC in 2016 and was commissioned into the Medical Service Corps of the United States Army Reserves at the same time he graduated from Wake Forest University. It is without question that “service is in the Pickard family’s DNA”.
Defining an extensive and incredible professional career of a man who has done so much not only as a pharmacist but as a husband, father, veteran, deputy sheriff, and teacher is a challenge. For the past few years Bill fought his most difficult battle, his fight against cancer that ultimately took his life (far too soon) on August 24, 2020. Throughout this courageous fight Bill never wavered from his commitments to his colleagues and students at Campbell University. No matter the pain or suffering he was enduring, he arrived every day with a smile and determination to continue his service to his extended family. Touching the lives of so many students, peers, and friends, sharing his knowledge, advice, and wisdom will be something that will ensure his legacy will continue. Everyone who knew Bill in any capacity can share something enduring and positive he left with them.
In his honor, the Department of Pharmacy Practice Chairman, Dr. Byron May, and his wife, Dr. Diana Maravich May (’90), have renamed their scholarship “The May Family Pharmacy Scholarship Fund in Memory of COL William (Bill) Pickard.” Anyone wanting to enshrine the legacy of our dear friend and colleague are welcome to donate to the endowment of this scholarship that will recognize a pharmacy student who exemplifies the legacy of COL Pickard. You may give online using the following link. https://campaign.campbell.edu/give/ Scroll down on the page and under “Please give my gift to:” select College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, then select May Family Pharmacy Scholarship in memory of COL Bill Pickard. For information on how to contribute, please contact Will Bratton (firstname.lastname@example.org).