Brown was born and raised in Wilcox County, Ga. He got his doctorate in pharmacy from Mercer University before he moved to Cedartown, where he worked for Moore's pharmacy. After working at Moore's, Brown decided to open his own pharmacy just down the street at 546 North Main Street. Later in his life, Brown served as a city commissioner for Cedartown.
The pharmacy featured a soda fountain and snack bar, as well as an ambulance service in the 1970's. Brown took pride in having an area in the back of the store for people to sit around and socialize.
“A lot of problems were solved and a lot of politics were discussed around this table,” said Ray Merritt, a long-time friend of Brown.
“This was a community pharmacy,” said Terry Wheeler, who worked as an EMT for Brown's ambulance service. “This was not just a place to come and get your prescription, this was a place to come and ask questions and get medical advice,” said Wheeler. “He ran this place like they would have at the turn of the century.”
Brown collected many antique items from the area and displayed them in his store. The photographs and items are still on display, reminding customers of the rich history of Cedartown and Polk County.
As time moved on, the county began running their own ambulance service and many large chain pharmacies moved into the area. Brown's became one of the few remaining privately owned pharmacies in Cedartown.
“When the chains came through there were only a few pharmacies left where people could come in and socially interact with the pharmacist,” said Wheeler. “When people come into the chain pharmacies, they don't get a chance to interact with the pharmacist, but Wilburn always prided himself in having that interaction with the customers.”
Brown was also known to many of his friends as a caring and trustworthy man.
“The biggest thing he had with his customers was trust,” said Wheeler. “He built a trust and friendship with everyone. There were no 'big I's' or 'little you's' with his customers, he treated everyone equally.”
Mike Nix, who worked as a pharmacist with Brown, remembers how much Brown cared about his customers. Nix remembered a time when a couple had just come into town and their little girl had an ear infection and needed some medication. Nix said he asked if he should hang the bill up for them to pay later in the week. Brown told him just to throw it away, that they couldn't pay for it. Nix asked Brown why he gave them the medicine and Brown said that it was important to help out that little girl; Brown said “I just couldn't let her go without her medication.”
“If we could give out a humanitarian award, he would be the candidate,” said Wheeler.
Brown passed away at the age of 81 on the first of August 2012. Ownership of the business passed to Judy Brown, his wife; Denise Wallace, his daughter; and Lee Brown, his son. Lee Brown said he plans to keep the pharmacy open and Nix will be taking over as the pharmacist.
Nix has been a pharmacist since 1976. He had a store of his own in Atlanta before he came to work with Brown in 1984 as a relief pharmacist. He worked at several pharmacies around town and retired from Wal-Mart, He came back to Browns around the first of the year.
“Wilburn took me back like I had never left,” said Nix.
“I worked about 25 years for the chains, and this side [of the business] is much more relaxed and personal,” said Nix.
Nix said that the first thing he plans to do is to get more customers into the store.
“A lot of people thought we were closed because Wilburn died and just stopped coming in. We want to get the word back out that we're here and running as usual and we want to run it like Wilburn ran it before,” said Nix.