Arkansas Business Hall of Fame 2012: Jack Shewmaker

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jan. 30, 2012 12:00 am  

Jack ShewmakerFormer President/COO, Walmart1938-2010

That carried over into his retirement in 1988. He remained on the Walmart board for 20 years. He already had started JAC’s Ranch, a purebred Angus cattle operation, and later was an executive retail consultant for Woolworths Limited of Australia along with companies in New Zealand, United Kingdom, Africa and Asia.

Some of Shewmaker’s proudest accomplishments came in supporting the education of young people. He was a benefactor and booster for Arend Arts Center at Bentonville High School, the Boy Scouts of America and NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC).

Shewmaker also was instrumental in the growth of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). In 1998, he led SIFE to commit to an aggressive international expansion that continues today to the point that SIFE is now active on 1,500 college and university campuses in 39 countries. He served as chairman of the organization in 1985-88, during which time the number of universities participating in SIFE increased by nearly 200 percent. He remained a member of the SIFE board and the executive committee into 2010.

He has been honored many times over the years, both for his business accomplishments and for his work in the community.

Discount Store News named him Discounter of the Year in 1981, Mass Market Retailer magazine named him Retailer of the Year in 1985 and in 1997 Discount Merchandiser named him as among the “10 Most Influential People in Mass Retail Today.” In 2007, he was inducted into the Retailing Today Hall of Fame.

SIFE and its students gave him the Eagle Club Award and Champion of SIFE Award in 1986, dedicated the Jack Shewmaker SIFE National Headquarters in 1989 and in 1990 inducted him into the SIFE Hall of Fame. In 1997, the organization also honored him with the Double Eagle Award and the Secretariat Award. He received the Global Champion of Award in 2004.

NWACC made him an honorary Associate of Entrepreneurial Leadership in 2001, dedicated the Shewmaker Center for Workforce Technologies in 2003 and dedicated the Shewmaker Center for Global Business Development in 2010. In 2005-09, he was honorary chair of the NWACC Foundation $16 million capital campaign and received a Quality of Life award from NWACC in 2005.

In 2009, in recognition of his work and support, Shewmaker received the Outstanding Philanthropic Family award from the Mercy Health Foundation of Northwest Arkansas.

He was recognized multiple times for his work with the Boy Scouts of America, including receiving the Scouts’ Silver Beaver Award in 2010.

Shewmaker received many honors from colleges and universities. He received from Drury University an honorary doctor of free enterprise in 2000 and a lifetime achievement award in 2007 from Drury’s Breech School of Business, an honorary doctor of laws degree from Flagler University, the 2008 Business Person of the Year Award from University of the Ozarks, the Distinguished American Citizen in 1984 from Harding University and an honorary doctor of business administration from Southwest Baptist University in 1985.

He remained active in the Northwest Arkansas community until his death in November 2010.

Shewmaker’s lifelong philosophy may be best summed up by an anonymous poem he often recited called “Don’t Quit.”

The poem closes with these lines: “So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit – It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”



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