Former Walmart exec Jack Shewmaker dies at 72

ROGERS, Ark. -- Former Walmart executive Jack Shewmaker passed away Wednesday evening. He was 72.

Shewmaker began his career at Walmart in 1970 and rose steadily through the ranks of the company, serving in numerous capacities, including district manager; VP security (now known as loss prevention); VP store operations; EVP store operations, personnel and merchandise; CFO; and president and COO. Shewmaker retired from the company in1988, but continued as a member of Walmart’s board of directors.

“Jack was an extraordinarily gifted merchant and one of my greatest ongoing development opportunities was to walk stores and clubs with Jack –– with him striding ahead and me taking notes as quickly as I could,” noted Walmart Stores president and CEO Mike Duke. “He was a mentor to many of us and one of his greatest pleasures over the past few years was developing young merchants. Even after his retirement, he continued to attend buyer seminars and operations meetings. As a matter of fact, he was scheduled to speak at one of our buyer meetings [Thursday].”

Shewmaker, who was personally hired by Walmart founder Sam Walton, has been credited with developing the EDLP strategy that has come to define the world’s largest retailer. “He was also a strong advocate of Walmart’s pioneering development of technology,” Duke added. “He led the company’s adoption of bar codes and the launch of its first satellite system in 1983, tying together Walmart’s stores, distribution centers and home office.”

He also was heavily involved in Students in Free Enterprise, having been a former SIFE chairman of the board, and had remained a member of the SIFE Worldwide board of directors.

“Jack embodied the spirit of SIFE and will be deeply missed by all the members of our network around the world, as well as his colleagues and friends who came to know and love him over the years,” said Alvin Rohrs, SIFE president and CEO. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Melba, their children Daniel, Shari and Emily, and their 10 grandchildren.”

In addition to his work with Walmart and SIFE, Shewmaker also served as an advisory board member for Henkel North America; on both the executive and finance committees of the board of trustees of The Cleveland Clinic; on the board of directors of The Sisters of Mercy Health System (Mercy); and on the executive advisory board for the Westark Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Shewmaker and his family also owned and operated JAC’s Ranch, one of the largest cattle operations in Northwest Arkansas, breeding and showing registered Black Angus.

Services will be held at noon on Monday, Nov. 22, here in Rogers at Fellowship Bible Church of NWA, 1051 West Pleasant Grove Rd. A private family gravesite service will follow the Church service.

In lieu of flowers, the family has recommended memorial contributions to the following organizations:

Students in Free Enterprise-Jack C. Shewmaker Memorial
1959 East Kerr
Springfield, MO 65803
417-575-3545

Northwest Arkansas Community College Foundation - Jack C. Shewmaker Memorial
One College Drive
Bentonville, AR 72712
479-619-4321

Westark Area Council, Boy Scouts of America - Jack C. Shewmaker Memorial
1401 Old Greenwood Rd.
Fort Smith, AR 72901
479-782-7244