Industry Remembers Sheldon ‘Shelly’ Prial

The well-known pharmacist and home health dealer who tirelessly advocated for the industry well past retirement age has passed away.

Members of the HME industry are mourning the loss of longtime industry personality and advocate Sheldon “Shelly” Prial.

Prial passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 95 on May 24 in Summerville, S.C., his children, Jonathan Prial and Pamela Stein, recently reported.

Prial’s equally well-known wife and business partner, Thelma, pre-deceased him five years ago. In addition to his two children, Prial is survived by four grandchildren and five great-grandsons.

A Second World War veteran, Prial cleverly reversed an earlier U.S. Army rejection due to the fact that he could only see out of one eye by taking the vision test a second time using his right eye twice. Prial eventually left the service at age 20 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Brooklyn College of Pharmacy. He then became a Registered Pharmacist in 1950. 

Shortly before his graduation, Prial met his future wife at a college party in 1949 after his best friend Stanley urged him to attend. They were married eight months later.

During his career, Prial and Thelma owned and operated several New York City area independent drug stores, and transitioned to home medical supplies after big-box pharmacies became strong competitors.

In addition to running their businesses while raising their family, Prial and Thelma were early advocates for home healthcare and medical equipment providers, and together they founded the Home Healthcare Dealers Cooperative.

In addition to the Cooperative’s annual conferences, Prial and Thelma were active attendees of various conferences, including Medtrade, which Prial attended as a Medtrade ambassador up until 2015. Only missing one show during that entire span, Prial will be remembered by the industry for his energy, advocacy and enthusiasm.

“Truly a salesman in the most positive sense, Shelly always left people with smiles on their faces,” his son Jon wrote. “His memory is a blessing to all who knew him.”

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