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David Glass, Retired Walmart CEO and Visionary Leader, Passes Away At 84

The Glass family will hold a public "Celebration of Life" in his honor on Monday, January 27, 2020

Image credit: Walmart

David Glass, former Walmart CEO, retail leader and owner of the Kansas City Royals passed away on January 9, 2020 complications associated with pneumonia.

Glass joined Walmart in 1976 and served as the retail giant’s CEO from 1988 to 2000. After his retirement, Glass became the owner of the Kansas City Royals and continued to make himself available to Walmart executives and board of directors for guidance and advice.

“I am deeply saddened to learn the news of David Glass passing,” said Rob Walton, former Chairman of Walmart, in a statement. “For many years, my dad worked hard to recruit David before he joined us in 1976. Little did we know then the monumental impact he would have on us and the retail industry. David’s knowledge of the grocery industry, his financial acumen, and his embrace of technology were invaluable as we rapidly grew the business. When we lost Sam, David provided a steady, visionary hand the company needed to lead it forward. He did so with a deep sense of humility while maintaining the values and principles dad founded the company on. More than anyone beyond Sam Walton, David Glass is responsible for making Walmart the company it is today. On behalf of the Walton family, I want to express our appreciation for David as a leader and as a friend. He will be deeply missed.”

Glass was honored with numerous retail and business awards over the years, including being named “most admired CEO” in 1993 by Fortune Magazine, and inducted into the Retail Hall of Fame in 2000 and into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.

Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Walmart Inc. also shared his condolences and thoughts of Glass in a recent statement. “Those of us who watched him closely frequently tell each other that he is the most under-appreciated CEO in the history of business. The results of the company and the choices he made set the company up for a long run into the future. He would often say, “we are just getting started.” The reason some under-appreciate his impact was his humility.”

“Despite all his success,” McMillon continued, “he managed to give all the credit away. He would credit our associates and rightfully so. But, without his wisdom and good judgment, his intuition that led us to blaze new trails, his iron will and the love he had for all of us, Walmart would not be the company we are today. He led us into the food business, expanded beyond U.S. borders, helped teach us how to partner with suppliers and innovate through technology. In an April 29, 1996 article from Fortune magazine, the reporter said Walmart’s “core business appears mature; its chain of Sam’s Club stores is flagging; and its future, says the CEO, lies in food retailing, a brutally competitive arena. Maybe David Glass is brilliant. What almost killed Sears and Kmart, after all, was their managements’ resistance to change.” While the article seems to bet against us, the reporter sure did get one thing right: David was brilliant.”

The Glass family will hold a public “Celebration of Life” in his honor on Monday, January 27, 2020, at 1 p.m. the Northwest Arkansas Fellowship Bible Church, 1051 W. Pleasant Grove Road in Rogers AR.

See also: Jerry Honea Announces Retirement From Nationwide Marketing Group