Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Roush, Eric Anderson (1905–1984)

by Jennifer Harrison

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Eric Anderson Roush (1905-1984), pharmaceutical chemist, was born on 25 November 1905 at Allora, Queensland, eldest of three children of Queensland-born parents Jacob Adam Roush, saddler, and his wife Maud, née Anderson.  Eric crammed a three-year Queensland College of Pharmacy correspondence course into twelve months of study, gaining eight from a possible nine gold medals in 1926.  Registered on 13 January 1927, he left his Allora home for employment at Warwick before acquiring his own pharmacy at Kedron, Brisbane.  By 1929 he had relocated his business to Fortitude Valley.  On 26 September 1931 at Holy Trinity Church of England, Fortitude Valley, he married his former apprentice and fellow-pharmacist, Frances Jane Grice.

From 1930 Roush, first calling himself the 'radio chemist' but also becoming known as 'Chemist Roush', broadcast for over forty years, believed to be an Australian record.  In addition to a daily program giving pharmaceutical advice on radio 4BH, at 9 a.m. on Saturdays he conducted a ten-minute 'Cold Noses' segment advocating veterinary products, for dogs and poultry in particular.  It was heralded by the catchy theme, 'The Whistler and his Dog'For several years the Pharmacy Board of Queensland took exception to Roush’s methods of advertising and signage.  The British Medical Association, Queensland branch, also complained regularly, questioning whether pharmacists were authorised to treat people over the airwaves.

From June 1942 to October 1945 Roush served in the Volunteer Defence Corps; he was often posted on duty at Eagle Farm airport.  He established a manufacturing laboratory, Morden Laboratories, in Charlotte Street, Brisbane, to make products incorporating simple old remedies using dugong and fruit and plant extracts like camphor, eucalyptus, linseed and pawpaw, which he believed provided the most effective treatment for rashes, boils, coughs, rheumatism and other common complaints.  Also a stockist of hair-care, cosmetic and pet-care items, he operated a chain of seven pharmacies throughout Brisbane and sold his goods in more than fifty outlets in Queensland and northern New South Wales.  He also dispensed advice and patent medicines through a mail-order service.  In 1954, after fire destroyed the Charlotte Street premises, he commissioned the architect R. M. Wilson to design a purpose-built, three-storey building in Quay Street.

The stores at Valley Corner and Woolloongabba were in prime locations but the main store at 45 Queen Street, established in 1935, became one of Brisbane’s favourite meeting places for two generations of teenagers.  Inspired by the American drugstore concept, the layout was developed with pharmacy shelves and counters on one side and a mirrored milk bar extending the full length of the opposite wall.  Malted milkshakes and 'spiders', in all flavours, were popular specialties.  Here the slim, olive-skinned, bespectacled, white-coated pharmacist was constantly present.  Even-tempered and gentle, he always gave his full attention to whatever matter was in hand.

Following five years as a councillor of the Pharmaceutical Society of Queensland, Roush was president in 1972-74; he was elected an honorary member and fellow.  Both physically and financially he assisted in building the new St Mark’s Anglican Church, Albion, opened in 1964.  He was a member of the Windsor Bowls Club, serving as president in 1954-55, and was active in Toastmasters International.  Acknowledged as a gifted artist, he also had a keen interest in amateur cinematography.  After retiring in August 1974, he helped to run the family-owned Boolarong Motel at Alexandra Headland.  He died on 18 October 1984 at Nambour and was cremated.  His wife and their adopted daughter and son survived him; a son had predeceased him.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Journal of Pharmacy, August 1974, p 525
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 19 October 1984, p 18
  • Pharmacy Board records, items 282892-202894
  • 294666-294670 (Queensland State Archives)
  • private information

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Jennifer Harrison, 'Roush, Eric Anderson (1905–1984)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/roush-eric-anderson-14192/text25204, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 22 May 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

View the front pages for Volume 18

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