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Trailblazing pharmacist Dr. Champion passes away after more than 60 years of serving Memphis

Dr. Charles A. Champion was the first Black pharmacist to work at a Memphis hospital. He leaves behind a legacy of 60+ years serving the community.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A beloved and historic Memphis figure, known for healing others, has passed away. 

Dr. Charles A. Champion died Saturday, according to a social media post by the shop he ran for more than 40 years — Champion's Pharmacy.

Champion was the first Black Pharmacist to work at a Memphis hospital and leaves a legacy of over 60 years serving the Memphis community. 

In February 2022 the doctor was honored as he received the Arthur S. Holmon Lifetime Achievement Award. He then celebrated his 92nd birthday in August.

"We mourn his departure but celebrate his incredible life and legacy," the post written by Champion's family reads. "He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and friend. Dr. Champion spent his career creating and providing remedies to treat many common illnesses. His dedication and love for people and his community were evident in his work. The joy Dr. Champion found in serving others was immeasurable, and we are grateful to everyone who trusted him and Champion's Pharmacy and Herb Store with their health and wellness needs."

Pharmacist Dr. Charles A. Champion passed away on Saturday, January 21, 2023. We mourn his departure but celebrate his...

Posted by Champion's Pharmacy on Saturday, January 21, 2023

Champion graduated from Xavier University and was drafted into the United States Army where he first worked as an Army pharmacist in Germany.

When Champion returned home in 1957, he started working at John Gaston hospital — now known as Regional One Health. It Is here where he became the first Black pharmacist to work at a hospital in the city of Memphis. 

In 1981, Dr. Champion opened Champion Pharmacy and Herb store. Ten years later, the store moved to its current location on Elvis Presley Blvd. 

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland honored Champion's accomplishments in 2019 when a key to the city was presented to the doctor. On Saturday, Strickland paid his respects saying "I was saddened to hear about the death of Dr. Charles Champion. He was a true champion." 

Champion's legacy endured for over 60 years — in many Memphian's eyes he became the quintessential pharmacist and herbalist in Shelby County.

“I’ve been coming here since I was a child,” Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner said of Champion's Pharmacy in August. “He means the world not only to me but to the entire Memphis and Shelby County community. Dr. Champion is one who trailblazed, one who has been the one to keep our community healthy for years. He’s poured so much into us, and it’s incumbent upon us to give that love, respect and admiration back to him.”

That day in August, doctor said the secret to his longevity is “living like a Champion.” 

“These are some of the things to help me as I reached the age of ninety-two—I try to eat well,” Champion said. “Although when you get to be ninety-two sometimes you have to push yourself but try to select the best of food, try to drink plenty of water, not to overdo it, but drink plenty of water—get exercise.”  

At the time, Dr. Champion also recommended that everyone "get plenty of rest" and "keep your hands in the hand of the man upstairs."                                        

He said “that is my solution to ‘live like a Champion.'”  


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