Samuel Maurice Bialek, 87, founder of a chain of area pharmacies and of a regional medical supply company, died June 19 of congestive heart failure at his home in West Palm Beach, Fla. He had lived in the District for 75 years before moving to West Palm Beach in 1991.
Mr. Bialek, a native of the District, graduated from McKinley High School and received his undergraduate degree in pharmacy from George Washington University in 1939.
During World War II, he was an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.
In 1949, he and his brother Ted founded Bialek's Medical Arts Pharmacy, which eventually became a chain with stores in the District, Maryland and Virginia. The Bialek pharmacies were true apothecaries; drugs were their exclusive product.
Mr. Bialek's daughter recalled a bank of perhaps a dozen phones that lined a wall of the main pharmacy at 1800 I St. NW; the phones were direct lines to doctors, who called in their prescriptions. The pharmacies also dispensed generic medications and compounds and sold to nursing homes, psychiatric institutions and hospitals.
Bialek's Medical Arts Pharmacy relied on a fleet of Volkswagen "Bugs" to deliver throughout the area. The cars featured the Bialek slogan: "Have Pill Will Travel."
In the late 1960s, Mr. Bialek founded Bialek Medical Arts Supply, which became one of the largest medical supply companies for physicians in the region. He retired in 1991, and the Bialek family sold the business in 1995. The last Bialek store was sold in 1997.
Mr. Bialek supported the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Arena Stage and other arts organizations. He also supported the arts in Florida.
Mr. Bialek's marriage to Bunny Stein Bialek ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Bette Jerome Bialek of West Palm Beach; three children from his first marriage, Dr. Donald S. Bialek of Yarmouth, Maine, Joan Bialek Levitt of Potomac and Dr. Barry Bialek of Boulder, Colo.; a stepdaughter from his second marriage, Lisa Rafel Surrenda of Oakland, Calif.; a brother, Robert Bialek of Rockville; 12 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.