Teachers within Mexico School District 59 will have the chance to win a grant from the Webber family of pharmacies. Larry Webber announced Tuesday night the Webber family of pharmacies will provide $5,000 annually in grant money for a teacher in each of the district's five schools, or $1,000 per teacher.

The announcement came during Webber's acceptance of the Commerce and Industry award from the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce. Teachers receiving the grants will be announced in the spring. Recipients will determine how the money is used, whether it’s to take a vacation, buy school supplies or do something else, Webber said.

"Justin, Brendan and I talked and we tried to come up with something we could do," Webber said. "It will be done in Laurann's memory. We'll be working with Deb Haag and some other very capable to establish criteria for the awards."

Webber's wife, Laurann, died in 2014 and was a pharmacist in her own right, having managed Jackson Street Drug, a Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, for a number of years. Larry and Laurann Webber both attended the same pharmacy school — St. Louis College of Pharmacy — from 1964 to 1969.

"I can't imagine anyone who was more supportive, a better wife than Laurann, nor a better mother to Justin and Brendan," Webber said, holding back tears. "I couldn't have done any of this without her and I miss her every day."

The first Webber pharmacy opened 43 years ago on Summit Street. It expanded in 1986 at that location and would eventually move next to Moser's on West Monroe Street in 2014. The Webbers took over Jackson Street drug in 1994 and combined its assets with the Drive-in Pharmacy in 2010. The Webbers opened Parkyway Pharmacy on Kelley Parkway in 2017. The pharmacies are managed by Larry Webber and his sons, Justin and Brendan, who also accepted the Commerce and Industry award on Tuesday.

The family of pharmacies started with two employees, but now employs 26 at its three locations. The pharmacies went from filling 17 prescriptions on its first day to more than 145,000 last year. The Webbers employ five full-time pharmacists, Debbie Abbot, Kathy Wall, Kim Ekern, Robyn Phipps and Garf Thomas.

Webber acknowledged his staff during his acceptance speech, requesting they stand and be recognized. He also acknowledged the staff of Commerce Bank in their support of Webber pharmacies for 43 years. He recognized his daughters-in-law, Amy and Melissa, for their support.

The Webbers then received resolutions from the Missouri House and Senate. They were given by State Rep. Kent Haden, R-Mexico, and State Sen. Jeannie Riddle, R-Mokane, respectively.

"[Webber] is my pharmacy and when I go in, you learn to appreciate what it is like to live in a town like ours," Haden said.

When visiting a Webber family pharmacy you recognize the faces behind the counter and they ask how you are doing, how your family is doing and even how your pets are doing, he said. "Everybody cares. Larry, you've got a great business, a great set of people," he said.

Webber and his family have made Mexico a better place through what they have done for the community, Riddle said. "I just want to thank you for everything you've done for Mexico, the community and Missouri overall. I'm very proud of you and your family," she said.

The Webbers finally were recognized by Mexico Mayor Ayanna Shivers. She read from a proclamation declaring Oct. 8, 2019 as a day to express thanks to the Webber family of pharmacies. "On behalf of the citizens of Mexico and the city council, I extend to the management and employees of the Webber family of pharmacies our congratulations and best wishes for future prosperity," she said, reading from the proclamation.

cdunlap@gatehousemedia.com