William Fewell Merchant III, 63, a pharmacist and nationally known lecturer and consultant on pain management and chronic illness, died May 21 at Fauquier Hospital of complications from thyroid surgery.
Mr. Merchant, a 37-year resident of The Plains, was a native Washingtonian who grew up in Manassas and Richmond. He graduated from Osbourn Park High School in Manassas in 1959 and studied history at the College of William and Mary.
He graduated from the Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy in 1967, where he was president of his senior class and a member of Kappa Psi, a national pharmaceutical fraternity.
Mr. Merchant, also known as Toby, purchased The Plains Pharmacy in 1967, and one of his first steps after taking over the three-person operation was to integrate the store's modest lunch counter. He eventually turned the business into a full-service pharmacy and medical supply company with more than 60 employees serving the entire Northern Virginia area.
He also hired and trained many young pharmacists recently out of school, and he was known to personally respond to emergency calls to provide prescriptions or oxygen at all hours of the day and night.
Over the years, The Plains Pharmacy became a hub of the community, and Mr. Merchant helped revitalize the Fauquier County town in the 1970s and '80s. He also was an expert on homeopathic remedies and the compounding of drugs, and he served as a pharmaceutical consultant for the Washington Redskins in addition to lecturing on a wide variety of pharmaceutical topics across the country.
Mr. Merchant was on the board of the Shenandoah University School of Pharmacy, volunteered with the Fauquier Free Clinic and donated prescriptions and medical equipment to numerous organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the Hospice of Northern Virginia. He was a past member of The Plains Volunteer Fire Department.
He was a member of the Grace Episcopal Church vestry in The Plains and served two terms as the church's senior warden. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha social fraternity, a founding member of the Goose Creek Jazz and Ragtime Society and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Middleburg Tennis Club.
He was an avid golfer and tennis player and was deeply interested in genealogy. He was recently recognized by the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors and by the state of Virginia as a respected business leader in Fauquier.
Survivors include his wife of 36 years, Barbara Bryant Merchant of The Plains; three children, William Fewell Merchant IV of Washington, Benjamin Preston Merchant of Warrenton and Evelyn Merchant Jackson of Danville, Va.; a brother, John Holt Merchant of Lexington, Va.; a sister, Evelyn Merchant Sutton of Richmond; and three grandchildren.