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'Live like a Champion': historic Black pharmacist reflects on most important life lessons on his 92nd birthday

The 92-year-old has been serving Memphians since 1957.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —

In his early 90s legendary Black pharmacist Dr. Charles A. Champion is still wearing his white coat. He has been serving Memphians since 1957. 

In February we honored the doctor as he received the Arthur S. Holmon Lifetime Achievement Award and today he’s celebrating his 92nd birthday. 

His legacy has endured for over 60 years. Dr. Champion arguably has become the quintessential pharmacist and herbalist in Shelby County.   

Saturday family and friends stopped by the Champion Pharmacy and Herb store to celebrate his 92nd birthday.   

“I feel great to be able to say that I have reached this plateau in life and, along the way, I have been able to enjoy life,” Dr. Champion said.  

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

“I’ve been coming here since I was a child,” Shelby County Commissioner Van Turner said.  “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.” 

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 Memphis. 

 “You know, Dr. Champion believed, he believes in holistic medicine,” Turner said.  “It’s not just what you can give in a form of a pill, but he’s given us love—he’s given us sage advice.”  

RELATED: 'Live like a Champion': Memphis' first Black pharmacist recalls legacy

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

The doctor says 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,” the doctor 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.”  

Dr. Champion also recommends 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.”  

RELATED: Black doctor speaks out about decreasing number of African American physicians and the need for more

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