Invoice Underwood, founding father of eponymous Fayetteville jewellery retailer, dies at 90

Invoice Underwood, founding father of eponymous Fayetteville jewellery retailer, dies at 90

William “Invoice” Underwood, the founder and chairman of family-owned Underwoods High quality Jewelers in downtown Fayetteville, died April 2 at his Fayetteville house after a short battle with most cancers. He was 90.

Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Underwood’s church since 1959, will maintain a funeral service at 2 p.m. Thursday (April 6).

Click on right here for the obituary.

Craig Underwood is the corporate president and have become the bulk enterprise proprietor about 14 years in the past. He labored alongside his father since 1987. Invoice Underwood launched the enterprise on Dec. 27, 1957, on Dickson Road in Fayetteville, the place it nonetheless resides in the present day.

An Oklahoma native, Invoice Underwood spent 4 years as a watchmaker within the Navy and got here out with the GI Invoice. He went to the College of Oklahoma in Norman to check enterprise and accepted a job making watches for John Roberts, an organization that specialised in manufacturing class rings.

After his first semester at OU, John Roberts provided Underwood the chance of managing the corporate’s small retail retailer in Fayetteville. After a number of months in Fayetteville, John Roberts provided Underwood the prospect to buy the struggling retailer outright.

“I didn’t have two dimes to rub collectively,” he instructed the Northwest Arkansas Enterprise Journal in a 2017 interview. “So that they offered it to me on credit score for $1,000. And that’s how we acquired began.”

Success took time. The primary retailer, adjoining to the present Underwoods retailer, offered principally fraternity jewellery. Underwood lived at the back of the shop, carried a full class load on the College of Arkansas and was the only worker.

“Once I was attending class, the shop was closed; once I acquired out of sophistication, I opened the shop,” he recalled. “We had just a little merchandise, however not a lot. And I actually didn’t have a lot cash to reinvest within the enterprise.”

He employed his first worker in 1958 — the identical yr he married his spouse LeAnn — and efficiently paid off the $1,000 credit score for getting the enterprise in three years.

Underwood earned his enterprise diploma from the UA in 1961. Additionally that yr, the shop met the strict necessities to earn the Accredited Gem Lab designation from the American Gem Society (AGS), the primary jeweler in Arkansas to take action.

That was the start of a brand new period for Underwoods, highlighted by the development of its present constructing at 611 W. Dickson St. Accomplished in 1966, the unique design was the brainchild of the late E. Fay Jones, a nationally acclaimed architect and designer primarily based in Fayetteville.

Invoice Underwood, founding father of eponymous Fayetteville jewellery retailer, dies at 90
Invoice Underwood

Jones approached Underwood and provided his design companies in alternate for workplace house within the new constructing. Underwood agreed, and Jones used the second ground as his workplace till he died in 2004.

By way of the years, Underwood garnered dozens of business recognitions on a nationwide stage. He was elected to the AGS board of administrators in 1970, and in 1978 he was considered one of simply 33 jewelers within the U.S. chosen by the Smithsonian Institute to create a novel jewellery piece for the Smithsonian Assortment.

In 1987, he was elected president of the American Gem Society and was a member of the Nationwide Jeweler Corridor of Fame (1991).

Underwood was a director of First Variable Life Insurance coverage and First Nationwide Financial institution. He was a thirty second diploma Mason and a longtime member of the Fayetteville Nation Membership. Underwood additionally served on quite a few organizations, together with the Fayetteville Civil Service Fee, the Dickson Road Enchancment District and the Rotary Membership.

Invoice and LeAnn Underwood made quite a few charitable presents, together with the Sam M. Walton Honor Lab on the College of Arkansas and the Underwood Backyard reward to the Walton Arts Heart and the media room on the Fayetteville Public Library.

In 2004, Underwood was named Entrepreneur of the 12 months by the Sam M. Walton Faculty of Enterprise, and he obtained the Quotation of Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2019.