A Life Lived: Mike Lingerfelt used his business to help a lot of people

Published 2:11 pm Monday, November 21, 2022

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The Elizabethton community was a big part of Mike Lingerfelt’s life, and, he, in turn held a special place in the lives of so many of its citizens, many of whom were his customers at Lingerfelt Pharmacy, and others he had attended church with at some time or other.
Lingerfelt had been a part of the drug store ever since his dad, Harold Lingerfelt, opened the pharmacy in the downtown in 1963.
For more than 58 years, Lingerfelt Pharmacy was operated by the Lingerfelt family under the direction of Harold and his son Michael. It was always true to its roots as a gathering spot in the community.
Mike sold the pharmacy last year. “His health was not good at the time, and his death last week was a surprise to all of us, but not unexpected,” said Marsha Barnett, a long-time employee of the pharmacy. “He touched a lot of people, not just customers of the pharmacy, but people in the community and in his church. He was very giving to everyone.
“I learned so much about the pharmacy business, about medicines, and come to know so many people through the business and through Mike and his father. Mike and Harold were so much a like. They were very kind and giving people and were always thinking about the people they served,” said Marsha.
Mike was the oldest of the Lingerfelt children, and he always had a big smile for everyone he served. “He was a big fan of the Raiders and Jon Gruden and he enjoyed playing golf. He was also faithful to his church and was a Gideon. He was a student of the Bible and he prayed for so many people,” shared Marsha.
Mike was talented in many ways. One of his loves was music. “He had all kinds of musical instruments and could play most of them, especially the guitar and mandolin,” said Marsha. “He never wanted any recognition for anything he did.”
Mike graduated from Sanford University and was licensed as a clinical pharmacist.
Cecil Nelson, also an employee of the pharmacy, called Mike a “good friend. He was good to me and my family. He would give you the shirt off his back.”
His gift of generosity was known and experienced by many others. Jimmy Ensor, one of the groups who meets regularly at the pharmacy, said, “Mike had a heart of gold. He would help anyone. I’ve been friends with him since the early ’80s, attended church with him at Fairview Baptist, and thought the world of him.”
Ensor said Mike was a big supporter of his missionary daughter, Amy and husband, Jason Miller. “He was a big supporter of their ministry not only through his giving, but through prayer,” said Ensor.
The men who meet daily at the pharmacy shared how Mike often overlooked it when kids and even big people would come into the store to get a cup of coffee, a coke, and a candy bar, and never pay. He would say, “That’s all right. That might be all they’ll have to eat today.”
“Not only that, he filled a lot of prescriptions that he never got paid for, and he knew he wouldn’t but he wanted those people to have their medications,” said Bob Hughes, one of the gang, who meet regularly at the pharmacy.
He not only gave medicine for free, but other things. “If he bought something and didn’t like it, he’d give it away,” said Ensor.
The men noted that Mike was like his father in many ways. “He was giving, kind, and just a friend. Oftentimes he delivered medicine to his customers. He did a lot of things for people, but he never wanted any praise or recognition for it,” they shared.
Ensor, when he purchased something at the drug store, always wrote his check to “Mike’s Place,” never to Lingerfelt Pharmacy. “He was my buddy,” explained Ensor.
On the back wall of the pharmacy are a number of photos, many of whom were Mike’s friends and preceded him in death, among them Bill Carter, a former employee, Rudy Gouge, Horace Broome, Pat “Red” Bowers, George Dugger, Jennings Wagner, Carl Burrough, Coach Dave Rider, Hook Benton, and Jay Nidiffer, to name a few. There are photos of others, who are still living — Marc Campbell, Dale Fair, and Jason Witten.
At the time of his death, Mike attended Heritage Baptist Church, and in former years had attended Immanuel Baptist Church as well.
“He loved the Lord, his church, and always loved and respected his parents,” said Ensor. “He was a good man, a good friend, and his smile and laugh were contagious.”
As he looked at the back wall, Ensor smiled and said, “Mike is now with a lot of those fellows. They’ve just moved their gathering place to Heaven.”

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