5 Facts about Pharmacist-Turned-Vice President Hubert Humphrey

February 2, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

Prior to becoming the 38th Vice President of the United States, and even before his efforts to push through legislation like the Food Stamp Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Hubert Humphrey followed in his father's footsteps by starting out as a pharmacist.

Prior to becoming the 38th Vice President of the United States, and even before his efforts to push through legislation like the Food Stamp Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Hubert Humphrey followed in his father’s footsteps by starting out as a pharmacist.

Here are 5 facts about the pharmacist-turned-VP:

1. Humphrey dropped out of undergraduate school to help out at his father’s drug store.

Humphrey, who was born in South Dakota in 1911 in a room above his father’s drug store, left his studies at the University of Minnesota to help out his dad, who had been struggling to keep his drug store afloat during the depression.

2. Humphrey earned his pharmacy license in the early 1930s.

Humphrey went back to school to get his pharmacy license, which he obtained from the Capitol College of Pharmacy in Denver, Colorado. In 1933, he became a registered pharmacist. For the next 4 years, he filled prescriptions alongside his father, who had opened a new store in Huron, South Dakota. The family still owns the store to this day, according to 4president.org. Eventually, Humphrey would return to the University of Minnesota to earn his BA, and he got an MA in political science from Louisiana State University.

3. Humphrey pushed for a bill that would later emerge as Medicare.

Back in Minnesota, Humphrey was elected to the US Senate in 1948. His first bill as a senator was for a health insurance program for the elderly that would be financed through Social Security. About a decade later, this idea reemerged as Medicare.

4. Beyond his health insurance ideas for the elderly, Humphrey fought for senior citizens in other ways.

Humphrey fought for expanded social security coverage, and he oversaw the creation of an Office of Aging and a National Commission on Aging. He also fought for a ban on age discrimination in the workplace, according to 4president.org.

5. Humphrey showed support for New Frontier programs, including 1 for measuring health.

Humphrey gave his backing to various 1960s New Frontier programs, including the Job Corps and Peace Corps. In addition, he supported a “score of progressive measures” related to health, education, and welfare, according to the US Senate’s website.