AUGUST 22, 1940 – JANUARY 2, 2020

Jack Evvard Shemer, 79, whose mother, Martha, was the owner and founder of the Shemer Art Center, passed away in early January after a long battle with COPD and heart disease. 

Known by many as “Cactus Jack,” his two highest priorities were family and friends. His third priority was having fun. A humble Arizona cowboy, he loved horses, cattle ranching, fishing, hunting and country music. He was also a brilliant computer scientist, who helped create the country’s first ATM and one of the first super computers.

Jack was born August 22, 1940 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. At the age of 16 he received the very first “Paperboy of the Year” award from The Arizona Republic, a newspaper from which he later received a $1,000 scholarship to attend Occidental College in California in 1958.

His pioneering computer career started at the age of 19 when he joined the General Electric Computing Company in 1960, while still in college. 

He also worked for Xerox from 1970-1976, where he co-founded and directed the Advanced Development Lab (ADL), considered the most prestigious lab of its kind in the country and the springboard to what became the personal computer. High school kids Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Alan Keys were among those who participated at ADL under Jack’s direction. 

His crowning achievement was co-founding and serving as the first chief executive officer of Teradata Computer Company, initially formed July 13, 1979. Started from his home, the company focused on creating a data-based management machine powered by parallel processing that was able to query databases, which had many orders of magnitude larger and faster than the world’s largest mainframes. In June 2015, Jack was awarded an honorary degree for his life accomplishments from Occidental College.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, February 9 at 2 p.m. at the Shemer Art Center, 5005 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Jack’s name to the Shemer Art Center or The American Legion (Post 44), 7145 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, AZ 85251. 

– Courtesy of Shonna James.