Gerald Harp, one of four children of Harps Food Stores Inc. founders Harvard and Floy Harp and a retired chief executive of the Springdale Arkansas-based company, died Friday (Oct. 16). He was 80.
Harp was born March 21, 1940. He graduated from Springdale High School in 1958 and later served in the U.S. Army. He returned to Northwest Arkansas and graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1966.
Harp worked for 45 years at Harps Food Stores, which started in 1930 as Harps Cash Grocery and was largely a family-owned business for decades, although management owned some of the stock. Harp spent the last seven years with the company as chief executive officer and chairman, starting in 1995 following the retirement of his older brother, Don Harp.
Gerald Harp was instrumental in selling the 70-year-old company to its employees in 2001. With approximately 6,000 employees, Harps is the largest employee-owned company headquartered in Arkansas and one of the largest in the U.S. Harps operates 114 stores in four states — Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.
Harp was preceded in death by his daughter Kimi, son Jerry, sister Judy, brothers Don and Reland, and his parents.