A LaVerdiere’s Super Drug Store in Rumford is shown circa 1980. Photo courtesy of Michael LaVerdiere

WATERVILLE — Former employees of the LaVerdiere’s Super Drug Stores, a company that started on Main Street in Waterville in 1922 and grew to have more than 70 locations, are gathering for a reunion Saturday to mark what would have been LaVerdiere’s 100th anniversary.

The LaVerdiere family founded and operated LaVerdiere’s Super Drug Stores in Maine for decades. Reginald LaVerdiere, second from left, was the longtime president of the company. Shown with him, from left, are sons Michael, Jeffrey and Steve. The company was sold to Rite Aid in 1994. Photo courtesy of Michael LaVerdiere

The former workers will hold a picnic and reminisce at Fort Halifax in Winslow, with any employee of the pharmacy chain welcome to attend.

Susan Jonason of Bangor, one of the organizers of the gathering, worked for the company from 1979 to 1989.

She began working for LaVerdiere’s fresh out of high school. When opportunities arose to advance within the company, its workers were first notified, she said. Jonason was promoted to advertising assistant and eventually assistant advertising manager.

“I’m very grateful I started at LaVerdiere’s,” she said. “It was a real pleasure to be a part of that.”

This is the third year that such a reunion will be held.

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“There was such a spirit at LaVerdiere’s,” she said. “They liked to work hard and play hard.”

The store began 100 years ago as a newspaper stand and for many years occupied 177 Main St. in Waterville, where Selah Tea Cafe now operates. There eventually was a second location on Kennedy Memorial Drive.

LaVerdiere’s by the early 1990s had expanded with locations also in New Hampshire and Vermont. About 40 locations included an Action Family Arcade. The company was sold in 1994 to Rite Aid, in part because of growing competition from larger retailers.

Michael LaVerdiere, who was the executive vice president, said the reunion is “a fantastic celebration of my family’s business.”

At the time the company was sold, it had over 1,500 employees and Walmart was in the process of buying lots of local businesses.

“We ended up selling at the perfect time,” he said.

“LaVerdiere’s wasn’t just a general store, it was an institution,” he said. “My father (Reginald LaVerdiere) was an amazing innovator and I learned so much from him.”

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