• College/Year: Pharm '50
  • Links to Oral History Sessions: Wernik, Donald Parts 1-4 (August 15, 2013)
  • Conflict(s): World War II
  • Military Branch & Unit: Marine Corps
  • Theater(s): Pacific
  • Marines Division: 1st Marine
  • Marine Corps Battalion: 16th Antiaircraft


Donald J. Wernik, born in 1925, was the oldest child of an immigrant from Russia and the daughter of immigrants from the Czarist Regime. Much of his youth revolved around the family pharmacy, Wernik's Pharmacy in Metuchen. After his graduation from Metuchen High School in 1943, Donald enlisted in the US Marine Corps in August 1943. From September to December 1943, he completed boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, and then, was sent to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for specialized training as a radar technician. By May 1944, his unit was preparing to deploy overseas and, in September 1944, he sailed for the Hawaiian Islands to join the 16th Antiaircraft Artillery of the First Marine Division. Sergeant Wernik served in the Pacific for over a year, including service during the Okinawa Campaign. Donald went to the Rutgers College of Pharmacy on the GI Bill. He became a registered pharmacist in 1951 and served as the proprietor of Wernik's Pharmacy until 1989. He also became active in the Middlesex County Pharmaceutical Society, serving as President of the Society from 1957 to 1959. He became active in the New Jersey Pharmaceutical Association, serving as a member of its Board of Trustees from 1961 to 1967, including a term as President of the Association from 1965 to 1966. He represented New Jersey on the Legislation and Examinations Committees of the National Association Board of Pharmacy Blue-Ribbon Committee, which established the first nationwide examinations. He served as a member of the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy from 1967 to 1972. From 1970 to 1973, he served on the American Pharmaceutical Association's Judicial Board. He served as President of the College of Pharmacy's Alumni Association from 1957 and 1958 and on the Rutgers Advisory Council from 1961 to 1976. In 1972, he became an integral part of the Rutgers College of Pharmacy faculty, serving as the Director of Intern and Preceptor Programs for the Board of Pharmacy, Director of Community Pharmacy Affairs from 1989 to 1996 and Rutgers University's Coordinator of Pharmacy Continuing Education from 1991 to 1994, all while teaching courses on his specialty, community pharmacy practice. From 1956 to 1962, he served as a member of Metuchen's Board of Health. He became a leader in the Metuchen Chamber of Commerce, serving as President of the Chamber from 1959 to 1960. He later served on the Borough Council from 1963 to 1969. From 1969 to 1979, he served as Mayor of Metuchen for three terms. Following his tenure as Mayor of Metuchen, Donald found success on the county level, winning election to the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, on which he served from 1981 to 1990. Following his time on the Board, he was appointed to the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission in 1992 and served as Chair of the Commission in 1994. He also joined the Middlesex County College Board of Trustees in 1994.