Connections That Last a Lifetime

Published on 05 February 2021

As the middle child in a family of seven children, including four brothers, Diane (Berry) Unterreiner, B.S. ’56, has always possessed a tenacious spirit. Her determination, paired with a unique family history of women in pharmacy, led her to pursue a career in pharmacy that would change the trajectory of her life.

Unterreiner's aunt Beauton Long apprenticed under a woman pharmacist for several years and became a board-certified pharmacist in 1934. Just two years later, Long opened her own pharmacy where Unterreiner would spend much of her youth.

"I just felt like it was the place for me," Unterreiner shared. "My family was very supportive."

Inspired by her aunt and encouraged by her family, Unterreiner enrolled at St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences (now St. Louis College of Pharmacy at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis), where she would create memories to last a lifetime.

"I didn't really have any professors I didn’t like," Unterreiner said. "I thought Dr. Zimmer and Dr. Mercer were really special, and Phyllis Sarich helped us girls as the faculty sponsor of our sorority Lambda Kappa Sigma."

The challenging curriculum kept Unterreiner busy with her studies, but she still managed to squeeze in pizza breaks with her best friend Conchita "Conchi" Dominguez, B.S. ’57, at Rossino’s, a restaurant in the basement of a building just a few blocks from campus.

The memories Unterreiner recalls best are field trips to pharmaceutical companies, such as Eli Lily and Company, UpJohn, Abbott Laboratories and Parke-Davis, as well as the annual variety show.

"I certainly enjoyed the field trips to the different pharmaceutical companies," Unterreiner recalled. "We had two in our junior year and two in our senior year. The companies hosted us for two to three days, and we got to tour their plants and learn about what they do there. Sometimes they would treat us to the movies, and it was on one of my junior-year trips that Lee [Leroy Unterreiner, B.S. ’56] asked me out on our first date. He asked if I would go with him to the movies, and I said 'sure I'll go with you,' and we've been together for 63 years now."

Unterreiner also got together with a few of her fellow sorority members to write a song for the variety show with lyrics she still remembers today.

"The whole school was invited to participate," Unterreiner said. "There were comedians and guitar players. Us girls got together and wrote a song to the tune of 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' called 'Take Me Out of the Pharmacy Lab.' We had a great time doing that."

As a senior, Unterreiner worked in the pharmacy at Barnes Hospital (Barnes-Jewish Hospital) until she married Lee in 1957. When Lee took a job with Eli Lily and Company a year later, the Unterreiners moved around the Midwest from Illinois to Indiana and back to Missouri before settling in Phoenix.

Even though Unterreiner had five children in eight years, she still found time to stay in touch with pharmacy, often working as a relief pharmacist in local community pharmacies until her retirement in 2000.

"School was so hard, but once I became a pharmacist, I fell in love with pharmacy," Unterreiner said. "I felt like I was helping take care of people, especially older patients. We didn't used to counsel patients, but as a rule, I always talked to them because it was important to me to connect with them."

Unterreiner also has become a lifelong advocate for the profession of pharmacy, first inspiring her younger sister Eleta Hutton, B.S. ’67, to follow in her footsteps and then her two sons-in-law and granddaughter to pursue pharmacy careers.

"Neither Lee nor I came from wealthy families," Unterreiner shared. "We so appreciate the life we've been able to have because of our education, and that's why it is important to us to give back. We love giving to the St. Louis College of Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony and writing a note to the student pharmacist receiving our gift. We always hear back from the student. It's so nice to feel that sense of connection."

This story was first published in the fall 2020 issue of Script Magazine. To view past issues of Script, visit the Script Magazine archive.

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