Former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive Don Soderquist died Thursday morning from complications of heart surgery, according to a statement provided by the leadership development center that was founded in his name.
Soderquist was founding executive of Soderquist Leadership in Siloam Springs and a 2010 inductee into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. He was 82.
In the emailed statement, Chuck Hyde, chief executive officer of Soderquist Leadership, said “we are deeply saddened to share that Don Soderquist passed away.”
“He had a unique ability to make others feel valued through his genuine interest in them as people. His driving motivation ‘to impact people in a positive way,’ I believe, is the mark he left on Walmart and why Soderquist Leadership exists today.”
Soderquist was a leader at Walmart for more than 20 years, serving as chief operating officer and senior vice chairman during a period when the retailer became the largest in the world. He was known as “the keeper of the culture” after founder Sam Walton died, according to Soderquist Leadership’s website.
Soderquist, who had been a part of John Brown University for almost 35 years, “had a knack for making people feel valued, loved and appreciated,” according to a statement from the private Christian college in Siloam Springs. “In 1998, Don partnered with JBU President Lee Balzer to found Soderquist Leadership…which has served over 50,000 people in the last 18 years.”
Soderquist served on JBU’s board of trustees from 1982 to 2009 and was chairman from 1991 to 2002. “He was elected trustee emeritus in 2009, and he consistently kept coming to the board meetings…including the board retreat in April at Greystone where he spoke to the current board members about what it truly means to be a trustee of JBU’s mission.”
In 2014, JBU dedicated its business college in his name.
“Those of you who knew Don personally know that he loved God and his wife, Jo,” Hyde said in the statement. “He was so proud of each of his children and their families. It was clear to see what was most important in his life in his faith and his family. He modeled that so well.”
“We will miss him terribly, but we know his expectations for us. We are blessed to do good work and will carry that forward to impact people and honor his legacy.”
A memorial service is scheduled Friday, July 29, at 10 a.m. at Fellowship Bible Church of Northwest Arkansas in Rogers.
Walmart posted a message from CEO Doug McMillon on its website Friday afternoon.
A letter from JBU president Chip Pollard to the JBU community can be found here.