By Aimé Lachance, Special to The Anchor
FALL RIVER, Mass. — Two awards for community service have been presented to Thomas Pasternak, well-known and highly-respected owner-pharmacist of Walsh Pharmacy on Rock Street in Fall River (whose ad routinely appears in The Anchor).
The Fall River Police Department recently paid tribute to Pasternak for his many years of leadership to improve the quality of life across the region. He received a special “Humanitarian Award” named after Rev. Dr. Robert Lawrence, retired pastor of First Congregational Church, who made the presentation.
Earlier, Massachusetts Citizens For Life honored Pasternak with a “Pro-Life Community Award.”
Both events drew hundreds of people at the annual gatherings of the two organizations.
Then-Mayor William Flanagan and Police Chief Daniel Racine praised Pasternak at the recent brunch of the police department. He was recognized for “exceptional service to the community and police support.” Rev. Dr. Lawrence added his own congratulations.
Chief Racine’s letter extolled Pasternak: “As a true humanitarian, you make yourself available to anyone and never hesitate to lend a hand to those unfortunate people in need. You have given of yourself unstintingly in the war against illegal prescription abuse and have spearheaded the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, recruiting physicians and pharmacists in our area.”
The citation pointed out that Pasternak has committed much time attending conferences, and seminars on prescription drug abuse.
“Immeasurable” efforts such as these have resulted in grants and other funds to combat the drug problem,” said Racine. He called Pasternak “a role model to this community.”
Offering their congratulations by way of resolutions were state and city government organizations and other law enforcement agencies.
The brunch included numerous service awards earned by police officers and civilian employees of the department.
It was the Greater Fall River Chapter of Massachusetts Citizens For Life that recommended Pasternak for a MCFL “Pro-Life Community Award.” The banquet took place in Norwood, and featured a number of awards.
Chapter president Beatrice Martins — a member of the state board of directors — championed Pasternak’s nomination.
In its presentation, the chapter reviewed his many contributions over four decades. He is “a man whose vocation places him on the front lines of the battle for life, under assault from all directions, but he had held his ground with devotion, courage and honor.”
MCFL and the local chapter have benefitted from Pasternak’s dedication. “Tom generously shares his treasure and has supported the MCFL fund-raising banquet, and the Greater Fall River Chapter’s work.”
“Tom brings his Pro-Life values to all the organizations he supports.”
He “is known for his dedication to the people he serves. He knows them individually and cares for them personally by listening closely to their concerns. A large part of his practice is to geriatric patients.” In 2012, Bristol Elder Services commended him for his life’s work.
MCFL president Anne Fox said, “We have a Sacred responsibility to do our very best to restore respect and legal protection for all people from conception until natural death.” Pasternak is a strong advocate against physician-assisted suicide, and seeks to help people understand the dignity of life in its final stages.
Even back at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in 1968, Pasternak was acknowledged for his “outstanding contributions.”
He began his career in neighborhood pharmacies, then took ownership of the independent Walsh Pharmacy. In the years since then, and because of his community involvement, he has received numerous awards.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River awarded him the Marian Medal in 1998 for service to St. Stanislaus Parish (finance committee, youth ministry and others); and directly to the diocese itself as a member of the Stewardship Committee, the St. Mary’s Educational Fund for scholarship assistance, and as director of the In Support of Life: End-of-Life Issues.
Last year, Pasternak received the Cardinal Health Generation Rx Champion Award as the pharmacist who has done the most to help prevent substance abuse.
At 69, he continues as president of Building Our Lives Drug-Free. He is a past president of the Fall River Pharmaceutical Association and the Southeastern Massachusetts Pharmaceutical Association. Also a former member of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Pharmacists Association which in 2005 bestowed on him the Bowl of Hygeia Award, a nationally-recognized award for community service.
He was one of the founders of the Fall River Diabetes Association, and served as a member of the former Fall River Welfare Advisory Board, now the state’s Medicaid Program.
Since 2004, Pasternak has co-hosted a WSAR weekly radio talk program — Fridays at 1 p.m. — “Ask Your Pharmacist,” a program he created.
Tom and Patricia Pasternak reside in Somerset. They are the parents of two adult children: Lara Donovan and Michael (Andrea Plowman) Pasternak; and grandparents of Max Pasternak and Ava Pasternak.