Clarence Harley Archer
November 12, 1931 – July 16, 2018
Arch was born in George’s Run, Ohio on November 12th, 1931 and grew up as the middle child of three boys in Steubenville, Ohio. Arch’s mother, Ida, was a homemaker, while his father, Harley, worked in the local steel mills along with delivering milk around town.
Arch graduated from high school in 1950 and moved to Columbus to attend The Ohio State University where he studied Pharmacy. It was here that he met his wife, Rebecca Ann Johnson. After graduating in the spring of 1954, Arch joined the United States Air Force as a pharmacist. Rebecca and Arch lived on Forbes Air Force Base, and their first daughter, Jeri Lynn, was born during their time here.
Arch had attained the rank of Captain when he left the Air Force. He moved back to Columbus and worked downtown at Wendt Bristol Drugs. He would also work evening hours and weekends in relief of the normal pharmacists at various locations. During this time frame, daughters Sharon Kay and Barbara Jo were born.
Clarence then moved on to work with SuperX Drugs, an affiliate of Kroger Co., as the Assistant Manager-Pharmacist. It was here that Arch found his passion for the retail side of the business and was quickly promoted Manager-Pharmacist. His unique promotional and merchandising techniques were new and ground breaking for the retail pharmacy industry. He was then promoted to become District Manager and moved his family to Youngstown, Ohio. It was here that his youngest daughter, Pamela Ellen was born.
The now complete family of six continued this SuperX journey when Arch was appointed to a VP position, resulting in a stop in Indianapolis in the early 1970’s, then onto Dallas and Houston for a number of years.
In the late 1970’s, the Archer family headed back to the Dallas area when Clarence took on a new role at Skillern’s Drugs, an affiliate of Zales Corporation, where he was responsible for approximately 100 stores within the Texas and New Mexico region. Arch would become Vice President of Operations until Zales Corporation dissolved Skillern’s Drugs in 1980.
Sam Walton then recruited Clarence to join him at Walmart. After a lengthy series of interviews, Arch was officially hired as the Director of Pharmacy Operations at Walmart where he was tasked with starting and growing the company’s Pharmacy Division. As Walmart grew, multiple specialty divisions were formed, and Arch became the Vice President of Pharmacy.
Under the direction of Arch’s business philosophy of “sales cure all ills”, Walmart pharmacies were one of the first in the industry to develop a drug packaging warehouse to conserve both bottom-line costs and time. Along with warehouses, Arch also firmly believed that hiring the best local pharmacists, attention to detail, creativity, and being available to the customer at all times would lead to the success of the division.
In January of 1997, Arch retired from Walmart, having opened 2,200 pharmacies, five drug warehouses, and leading a 200-person team at the Home Office in Arkansas.
When asked why he became a pharmacist, Arch will jokingly tell you he did it all for the money, of course. However, in all seriousness, Arch believes it was a natural fit for him ever since he worked in drug stores as a kid.
The magnitude of his impact on the pharmacy industry is truly a unique and long lasting one, so much so that several years after his retirement, Walmart Stores, Inc. chose to honor Arch by naming a conference room after him. Additionally, his Alma Mater, The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy recently gave Arch their highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Arch was only the 6th recipient in history to have received this prestigious award. Arch was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Rebecca Ann (Johnson), his parents, and two brothers, Clyde and Ralph.
Arch is survived by his 4 loving daughters, Jeri Lynn Townsend and husband Kevin of Spring, TX; Sharon Kay Hennigan and her husband Richard of Houston, TX; Barbara Jo Fox and her husband Arnie of Bentonville, AR; and Pamela Ellen Tolbert and her husband Don of Bentonville, AR; as well as 7 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren.
All are invited to visit with the family from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 19 at Callison-Lough Funeral Home in Bentonville. A memorial service for Arch will be conducted at 1:00 p.m. on Friday at First United Methodist Church in Bentonville.
- Visitation Thursday, July 19, 2018
- Funeral Service Friday, July 20, 2018
Clarence Harley Archer
July 20, 2018
I always enjoyed my time talking with Arch. Our paths crossed for a few years in Dallas and typically it was while visiting my brother Arnie and sister-in-law Barb and their family during holidays or birthdays. Besides our family connection, we also had another thing in common. We were Buckeye Alums and really liked following Ohio State football. So of course we would talk a lot about that. Thankfully there were only a few bad seasons when we both complained a lot and were ready to throw in the towel. During the good years though it seemed that Arch could always get tickets to the bowl games. And you could tell that he really enjoyed going to those games especially if they won. When talking with Arch it didn’t take long to see how special he was. A great family man, a pioneering spirit in business and just a warm person to visit with – truly a unique, one of a kind! He will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace with Becky and his other family members.
July 19, 2018
In 1985 Arch interviewed me for a position of starting a warehouse operation for the Pharmacy Division. I was 24 years old and had no knowledge of how to run a warehouse, let alone a Pharmacy warehouse. At one point when I questioned him as to why he felt I was his choice, he told me, "a widget is a widget, just follow the rules and keep me out of jail". That was advice that I took to heart for the next 22 years. Being one of the only non-Pharmacist in the Division for many years, and I think being so young, Arch took me under his wing. We often traveled together and Arch, over the years, would assigned me many special projects and various responsibilities as the years rolled along. So much so many people in the field thought my 'job' was as Arch's personal assistant. Well I am sure that was not necessarily always meant as a compliment, but it never bothered me. Arch believed in me and gave me a chance to run a Nationwide Dc Operation, Finance team, Managed Care group, and many other responsibilities over the years. He taught me more than I could ever have hoped to learn in a lifetime. I will always be thankful. To you Arch: I look forward to seeing you again someday and may God keep you safely in his hands till then.
July 18, 2018
Arch took a chance on a young Pharmacist in Kewanee Illinois in 1984. His faith in me and encouragement allowed me to grow in his organization at Walmart. I will always be grateful for his guidance and leadership directed to me. Arch truly made a difference in the industry and will be remember for his firm and no nonsense approach to business and managing people. I know he is in a better place and reunited with his Becky. Rest in peace my good friend.
July 17, 2018
July 17, 2018