Jack Shewmaker passed away suddenly Wednesday, Nov. 17, at his Bentonville, Ark., home. He was 72. Shewmaker was hired by Sam Walton as a district manager for Wal-Mart in 1970. Over the years he rose through the ranks and eventually became president/chief operating officer. He semi-retired in 1988 but stayed on the Wal-Mart board until 2008. He was also a philanthropist who touched many lives, especially in the areas of health care and education.
Shewmaker was instrumental in changing the landscape of health care in Northwest Arkansas and beyond. He was a member of the board of directors for Mercy Health Ministry, the eighth largest Catholic health system in the nation with 28 hospitals. He was also a founding member of the board of directors for the new Mercy Foundation for Health Innovation - a group charged with developing a new model of care throughout the health ministry.
“Jack’s committed service and genuine, unwavering support of Mercy made him a very valued friend and partner in our ministry,” said Lynn Britton, Mercy president and CEO. “Jack always emphasized the importance of community collaboration. He vested himself personally in relationships across Mercy and on behalf of Mercy. Just as importantly, he was an advocate for our co-workers and always reminded us to consider the impact of decisions on those who serve as part of Mercy.”
In December 2007, Shewmaker and his wife Melba announced a gift of $1.75 million to the Mercy of Northwest Arkansas capital campaign to assist in the creation of the new medical campus in Northwest Arkansas. The Shewmakers’ gift financed the implementation of technology in Mercy Medical Center’s diagnostic departments.
“Jack was a longtime supporter of the use of technology to enhance efficiency and quality. He also shared Mercy’s vision for providing quality health care with a focus on customer service,” said Scott Street, Mercy of Northwest Arkansas president and CEO. “Jack worked side-by-side with us in our efforts to bring additional health care services to Northwest Arkansas. His generosity with his time, talent and resources has truly made a mark here. We all have much to be grateful for by having known and ministered in Mercy with Jack.”