H. Alexis Roberts McMillan: Keeping a family and community tradition alive
By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook
Alexis McMillan is a proud Tallahassee native and a product of the Leon County School System. She is a graduate of J.S. Rickards High School and Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. Alexis is a third generation FAMU graduate, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Phillip Douglas, and both parents, Howard and Geraldine Roberts. Most recently, her niece Michelle Roberts Lewis graduated from the FAMU College of Pharmacy; and is poised to become a third generation pharmacist at the family business, Economy Drugs. It is the oldest business still in operation under the same ownership in Frenchtown, and is a historic landmark in Tallahassee’s Frenchtown Neighborhood.
Alexis’ father, Howard Roberts, purchased the pharmacy with a business partner (Clarence Beverly) in 1951 from the original owners, William and Clara Jimerson. Soon after, Mr. Beverly sold his interests in the business to Mr. Roberts. Today, Alexis’ mother, Geraldine Roberts, is the owner and Alexis is the Pharmacist/ Manager. Both can be found hard at work at Economy Drugs Monday through Saturday. For over 66 years, this historic, Black owned and operated business has maintained a loyal customer base through good service and a real connection to the community it serves. They specialize in providing items difficult to find.
Alexis grew up in a segregated Tallahassee, in a culturally rich Frenchtown and Jake Gaither Park Neighborhood; and has stories to tell about the civil rights movement in Tallahassee and the transition to integration in schools and the community. She is a divorced mother of one son, Ross, who has been nurtured in the same community where his mother grew up and now gives so much in building a high quality of life. With her demanding work schedule and responsibilities managing the family business, it is surprising that she finds time to volunteer; but she does. She gets her commitment to service naturally from her parents. Alexis is very active as a volunteer with the LINKS Incorporated, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority service projects, the Neighborhood Medical Center, the Sickle Cell Walk/ Run, the Riley House Rock-A-Thon, and many other civic projects. She is just as committed to her church, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, where she serves on its vestry and is part of the Lay Ministry of the church involved in planning the church’s 135 year anniversary this September 2017.
She is particularly proud of the role Economy Drugs has played over many years in the training of pharmacy interns, through a long standing partnership with Florida A & M University.
As the Frenchtown Neighborhood struggles to maintain its historic integrity and identity, it is encouraging to see that through the hard work of Alexis and her mother Economy Drugs remains an important asset of Frenchtown and the Tallahassee community.
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