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Joseph A. Teramani, World War II veteran and longtime Baltimore pharmacist, dies

Joseph A. Teramani was wounded in the campaign for Guadalcanal.
Joseph A. Teramani was wounded in the campaign for Guadalcanal.

Joseph A. Teramani, a World War II veteran who fought in the South Pacific and became a pharmacist after the war, died June 13 of a heart attack at Franklin Square Hospital. The Parkville resident was 96.

Joseph Anthony Teramani, son of Gaetano Teramani, a jeweler, and his wife, Adelaide P. Teramani, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in South Rochester Place in East Baltimore.

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After graduating from Merganthaler School of Printing in 1942, he attended City College to take classes needed for enrollment at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

Mr. Teramani was 14 when he began working at Gould’s Pharmacy, making deliveries on a bicycle that William Gould, who owned the pharmacy, purchased for him.

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“He gave him a dollar a week until he paid him back for the bike,” said Cindy Teramani, his daughter-in-law, who lives in Rodgers Forge. “Besides deliveries, he was a soda jerk, drug clerk, counted pills and compounded medicines. This is when he started thinking about becoming a pharmacist.”

In 1943, Mr. Teramani was drafted into the Army and trained in engineering, surveying and mapmaking at Fort Swift in Austin, Texas, and then transferred to the 82nd Chemical Mortar Battalion.

He was sent to the Southwest Pacific, where he completed training in jungle warfare in New Caledonia. He first experienced combat at the Bismarck Archipelago in Papua, New Guinea, and during the invasion of Luzon, saw Gen. Douglas MacArthur, family members said.

Mr. Teramani also fought in the campaign for Guadalcanal, where he suffered a severe leg burn and was sent to a field hospital in New Britain. After being treated for two weeks, he returned to active combat.

His unit was cited for “outstanding effective support” of the infantry in the Southwest Pacific.

After being discharged in 1945, he returned to Baltimore, where he was diagnosed with malaria and sent to Fort Howard Veterans Hospital for treatment.

“Joe was the epitome of the Greatest Generation, a young man who went off to war, luckily made it home alive and built a good life for himself and his family,” Ms. Teramani wrote in a profile of her father-in-law.

Mr. Teramani had not given up his dream of one day becoming a pharmacist, and with Mr. Gould’s encouragement and armed with the GI Bill, he enrolled at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, from which he graduated in 1951.

He began working at Kaye’s Pharmacy in Overlea, and at night part-time at Boschelle Pharmacy and Cermack’s Pharmacy. In 1956, Mr. Teramani and his business partner, Tony Pretrella, who was also a pharmacist, opened Midway Pharmacy in the 4900 block of Frankford Ave.

In addition to a soda fountain, they also had a five-and-dime store, and when they closed the soda fountain, added a carryout liquor store.

“During Joe’s years as a pharmacist, he was known as ‘Doc Joe,' and had a reputation for being kind and generous,” Ms. Teramani wrote. “If a customer came in and couldn’t pay for their prescription, it wasn’t uncommon for him to give it to them, telling them to pay back when they could.”

In 1976, with corporate pharmacies changing the face of the business, the partners sold the business, and Mr. Teramani went to work for Revco Pharmacy on Eastern Avenue, where he worked for 27 years until retiring in 2003.

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Mr. Teramani and his wife, the former Ileana “Eileen” Clasing, whom he married in 1953, lived for many years on Cottage Lane in Loch Raven Village. She died in 1989.

He was an avid Baltimore Colts fan and a season-ticket holder during the 1960s and 1970s. After the team left for Indianapolis, he and his son, Jay, became inveterate Ravens fans and season ticket holders.

He was also a duckpin bowler and was a member of a duckpin bowling league for many years at Parkville Lanes. He enjoyed spending summers in Wildwood, New Jersey, dancing at the American Legion Hall on Harford Road, playing the slots at Delaware Park and taking bus trips to Atlantic City and Ocean City.

In recent years, he lived with his second wife of 14 years, the former Daisy J. Gagliano, who survives him, at Oak Crest Village.

Services were held June 19 at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.

In addition to his wife and daughter-in-law, Mr. Teramani is survived by his son, Joseph Anthony “Jay” Teramani of Rodgers Forge; a daughter, Deborah L. Teramani of Baltimore; a stepson, Charlie Gagliano of Rock Hall; a stepdaughter, Cindy Hutson of Worthington Valley; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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