Julius Epstein, 93, a retired pharmacist who ran a little corner drugstore in Washington that was known for its old-fashioned soda fountain and small-town ambiance, died of congestive heart failure Jan. 1 at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington. He lived in Rockville.
Mr. Epstein and his wife, Shirley, operated Park Lane Pharmacy in the Foggy Bottom area at 21st and I streets NW for 45 years until they retired in 1992.
Mr. Epstein and a partner bought Park Lane in 1947 and expanded the business a few years later. Inside, there was a lunch counter where regular customers congregated to share stories while ordering from a menu that included hot turkey sandwiches, hamburgers, liver and onions and homemade bean soup. Toy fire trucks, shaving kits, makeup and perfumes lined the shelves along the aisles.
Mr. Epstein, dressed in a white coat, filled prescriptions and dispensed friendly advice. Among the patrons were State Department officials, foreign dignitaries and celebrities performing at the Kennedy Center.
In one case, he filled prescriptions for Jihan Sadat, wife of the late Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat. His service resulted in an invitation to visit Egypt.
Even as the urban landscape changed around it, Park Lane remained a throwback to a bygone era. It became one of the stops of a walking tour for the Smithsonian's Resident Associates Program.
Mr. Epstein was born in Kaunas, Lithuania. When he was 12 years old, his family came to this country and settled in Washington, where they had relatives.
He graduated from Central High School and received a degree in pharmacy from George Washington University, where he later graduated with a bachelor of science degree.
Throughout his high school and college years, he worked at a pharmacy a few blocks away from Park Lane on 17th Street. He also worked for his brother's pharmacy, Penn Drugs, at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
He was a member of Adas Israel Congregation in Washington and the D.C. Pharmaceutical Association.
In addition to his wife of 60 years, of Rockville, survivors include two children, Beverly Epstein of Bethesda and Dr. Philip Epstein of Cleveland; and three grandchildren.