Drug store owner helped develop Clovis

By Don McAlavy: Local columnist

George H. Sasser, a native of Alabama, came to New Mexico in 1915 and joined the staff of the drugstores at Artesia, Carlsbad, Hagerman, and Roswell. He came to Clovis in 1922 where he organized the Fox Drug Companies, probably the largest drugstore in the State of New Mexico. Sasser always did things in a big way. In 1927 he bought Fox Drug from Ivan G. Bridges.

While at Hagerman he became acquainted with Addie Anthony, who became his bride. Their one son was Duffy Sasser, who became a well-known citizen of Clovis.

Fox Drug, as a wholesale and retail concern, employed over 100 people. Sasser became a member of the Masonic order, director and president of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, and president of the N.M. Board of Pharmacy. The Fox Drug at 4th and Main later became the Roden Smith Drug. Sasser started a chain of drug stores. Then he entered the real estate business. He bought out the Weatherford holdings. He founded the Sasser Real Estate Co. in 1948 and took into partnership M. E. Bell, K. C. Lea, Fred Burch and his son, Duffy.

Sasser’s real estate firm built 10 to 20 houses a year. It also built about 90 percent of all homes in Marshall Heights. Next, Sasser bought 35 lots in the Highland Park area. He bought the Village Site Company and started a restaurant and founded the Silver Grill.

Sasser also founded The Village, the first mall in Clovis, at the corner of 7th and Main. Betty Lou Trull, who worked for Sasser, said Sasser owned the fixtures, W. D. Howell owned the lot and building, and Lewis and Jim Garrision were managers there. The forward progress by George Sasser was never diminished to this day, it was said in 1966.

In the mid-1950s Sasser, Clovis Schools Superintendent Travis Stovall and Earl Hartley, school board member, closed the deal on the sale of the old Clovis High School at 7th and Main. C.C. “Charlie” Murphy, while serving on the school board said “we sold the old high school to George Sasser and built the new one at 21st and Main.”

Claude Rose of Farwell, after working his way through pharmacy school, was approached by George Sasser, who encouraged Rose to try to buy the Fox Drug in Farwell. The drug store was deep in debt but Sasser felt Rose could do it if he worked hard and had enough time. Claude had no money but he was able to borrow a total of $9,200 from 92 different people and bought the drug store.

Dr. V. Scott Johnson roomed with Claude Rose behind the drug store for a few months in those early days. There in 1933 Farwell one of Dr. Johnson’s patients, a woman who had been bitten by a rattlesnake, was slowly dying. Fortunately “Doc” had helped to work on the perfection of the serum for snakes bites while stationed in Fort Sam Houston. George Sasser had ordered a stock of the serum for his pharmacy in Clovis at Johnson’s request.

“I called George Sasser and told him to stand out on the street corner with the serum in his hand and I’d be there shortly to pick it up. I was considered to be a pretty daring driver in those days, and I made it to Clovis on the dirt roads in record time. George was waiting just like I’d instructed him, and I never even had to stop. I got back to Farwell, administered the serum and that dying woman lived,” Johnson said.

George H. Sasser died April 4, 1966, the funeral was conducted by Sherwood Mortuary, now the Muffley Funeral Home on Thornton.

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at:
dmcalavy@telecopelab.com