Horicon pharmacists named UW Alumni of the Year

March 24, 2018 GMT

HORICON — A Horicon couple who worked side by side throughout their careers, has been named the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy’s 2017 Alumni of the Year.

John and Susan Sutter were recently recognized for their significant contributions to the pharmacy profession. The Pharmacy Alumni Association honors alumni who exemplify outstanding achievement in their careers, communities or through service to the School of Pharmacy.

“We are grateful that others have appreciated some of the leadership positions that we’ve held, and that’s all a reflection of, not only education, but also our continuing involvement with the university, School of Pharmacy students and faculty,” John Sutter said.

The Sutters share many distinctions, such as having been active members of the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, the National Community Pharmacists Association, and the American Pharmacists Association. John has served as the president of the Wisconsin Pharmacists Association, and Sue served as president of PSW and worked on the Pharmacy Examining Board.

The Sutters met as students in the School of Pharmacy in 1976, and married a year-and-a-half after their graduation. After practicing for a few years, they started looking for a pharmacy of their own.

“We visited a downtown pharmacy in Horicon that was for sale, but it didn’t feel like the right fit for us,” Sue Sutter said. “Besides, there was a competing pharmacy located in the Marshland Mart area that looked more progressive and it had a large parking lot next to a grocery store.

“One month later, John was reading the Sunday paper and saw a pharmacy listed for sale in the business section of the want ads. He looked into it and said to me, ‘You’re never going to believe where it is.’ It was the one in Horicon by the grocery store. I thought maybe we’re destined to be in Horicon.”

They bought the Horicon pharmacy in 1983. As they started their family, Sue primarily stayed home to raise their three children. Once their youngest child started kindergarten, the Sutters decided to expand their base and purchased Bill’s Rexall in Mayville in 1992.

For 34 years, the pair owned Marshland Pharmacies, which included the community pharmacies in Horicon and Mayville, and a clinic pharmacy in Beaver Dam that opened in 2006.

“We really appreciated the support of the community,” Sue said. “We believed that if someone gave us the courtesy of their business we needed to respect that and never take it for granted. We always tried to treat them with the very best care and courtesy we could. People responded to our commitment. Beyond John and I, our employees and other pharmacists all were key to providing wonderful and consistent service.”

At the height of their business, there were 10 pharmacists and 36 employees among the three locations.

In 2000, the Sutters found a rewarding way to give back to their profession and the UW. Marshland Pharmacy became one of the first Wisconsin community pharmacies to offer an American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-accredited residency program. In addition to the residency, the Sutters served as preceptors (supervising pharmacists to pharmacy students in training) and mentored dozens of UW–Madison School of Pharmacy student pharmacists.

“The quality and caliber of students that came to us were always top-notch, and that’s heartening to us, as alumni,” John said.

The Sutters sold their pharmacy in Mayville to Shopko Hometown in 2014 as they prepared to retire. Beaver Dam Community Hospital took over the clinic pharmacy in 2016, and their pharmacy in Horicon was sold last June.

“We had great employees and we miss the people, the patients and customers that we had a chance to work with,” John said.

Sue added, “We had five or six employees that worked for us for well over 25 years. We miss the regular day-to-day interaction with everyone.”

Although the two have retired, they will continue to live in the area and are committed to staying engaged with the community.

Sue is doing some consulting work and is on the Beaver Dam Community Hospital board. John is on the YMCA of Dodge County board and has been a member of the Lions Club for 35 years.

“Involvement, both professional and personal, has always been important to us,” said John. “We consider and seek out opportunities. We like challenges.

“Our message to younger people is to take on challenges and take on risks. You may fall on your face once in a while, but ultimately that is how you find satisfaction.”