WALTON, HELEN - Benton County, Arkansas | HELEN WALTON - Arkansas Gravestone Photos


Bentonville City Cemetery
Benton County,

US Army
Co. A, 777th Military Police Battalion
World War II
March 29, 1918 – April 5, 1992

Business Entrepreneur, Founder and First CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Samuel Moore Walton was born near Kingfisher, Oklahoma, the son of Thomas Gibson and Nancy Lee "Nannie" Lawrence Walton. The family left their Oklahoma farm in 1923 and relocated to Missouri. Sam attended high school in Columbia, then attended the University of Missouri-Columbia where he completed his baccalaureate degree with a major in economics in 1940. His first job was with J. C. Penney as a management trainee; however, he resigned this position in 1942 and moved to Oklahoma where he worked for a short time at the DuPont Company’s munitions plant near Tulsa. It was here that he met his future wife, Helen Robson, whom he married on February 14, 1943. Sam’s military career began on July 16, 1942, and served as a communications officer for the Army Intelligence Corps detachment assigned to Co. A, 777th Military Police Battalion, Fort Douglas, Salt Lake City, Utah. Sam resigned his US Army commission in 1945 having earned the rank of Captain. After leaving the military, the family moved to Newport, Arkansas where they had purchased a Ben Franklin franchise. It was here, that Sam began developing the marketing concept that would eventually make him one of the richest man in the United States, declared by Forbes to be the richest from 1985-1988. After not having his lease renewed, he and Helen moved to Bentonville, Arkansas. There he bought his first store, and renamed it Walton's 5 & 10, being the first self service variety store in the state of Arkansas. After opening several other Ben Franklin franchises, and with the owners declining to cut their profit margins, Sam opened his first discount store, Wal-Mart, in Rogers, Arkansas in 1962. Expanding his business, Wal-Mart was incorporated in 1969. In 1970, Wal-Mart offered 300,000 shares of public stock with the Walton family retaining 61 percent ownership. By the end of 1980, 330 Wal-Mart stores were operating. In 1991, Wal-Mart became the largest retailer in the nation with 1,700 stores in operation. Wal-Mart was the first to use UPC bar-codes, and with private satellite systems to track delivery trucks, process credit card transactions, and transmit sales data, the "just in time" method of inventory was introduced, which eliminated the need for storage at each store. His pioneering concepts paved the way for a new breed of retailer and forever changed the face of retailing. In March 1992, Sam was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush. A few days later Sam was diagnosed with cancer that took his life within a month of receiving the award. At the time of his death, he had a net worth of nearly $25 billion. On October 6, 1998, the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation gave $50 million to the University of Arkansas to establish the Sam M. Walton College of Business Administration to memorialize Sam through provision of a variety of programs and opportunities for both students and faculty.

December 3, 1919 - April 19, 2007

The Morning News of Northwest Arkansas
April 2007

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) - Helen Robson Walton, widow of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, died Thursday evening at her home, the company said in a news release. She was 87.

Walton was surrounded by family members when she died of natural causes, the company said.

"We are so proud of our mother and the life she led," said Rob Walton, eldest son of Sam and Helen Walton and chairman of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. "She devoted much of her life to helping others, and to improving the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas.

"Today, my brother and sister, and the entire Walton and Robson families mourn my mother's death. But we also celebrate her extraordinary life."

Walton was born Dec. 3, 1919, in Claremore, Okla., a daughter of L.S. and Hazel Carr Robson. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in finance.

She met the man who would become her husband, Sam Walton, a native of Kingfisher, Okla., in 1942, and the two were married on Valentine's Day 1943. Sam Walton died in 1992 at the age of 74.

After her husband fulfilled his military duties during World War II, the couple moved in 1945 to Newport, Ark., where they opened a Ben Franklin "five-and-dime" store. Five years later, they moved to Bentonville, where Sam Walton continued his career in retailing.

In 1962, the Waltons opened the first Wal-Mart in nearby Rogers. Other stores followed, and the chain grew into the largest retailer in the world but maintained its headquarters in Bentonville.

The company now has more than 6,500 stores in 15 countries.

Members of the Walton family are listed each year among the world's wealthiest people. In March, Forbes magazine listed Helen Walton as the 29th richest individual in the world, with a fortune estimated at $16.4 billion. All three of her surviving children were ahead of her on that list.

Helen Walton was widely known in Arkansas for her philanthropy, focusing on education, the arts, and families and children. She also was active in the Presbyterian Church both locally and nationally.

She was president of the Walton Family Foundation when it made a $300 million gift in 2002 to the University of Arkansas, a donation that followed an earlier $50 million grant by the foundation to the university's Sam M. Walton School of Business.

John White, chancellor of the university's Fayetteville campus, called Walton "a remarkable woman."

"To know her was an honor and a privilege," White said. "She had an impact not only on Arkansas, but throughout the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, and when the grief fades away, they're going to realize how blessed they were to have such a wonderful mother."

Helen Walton also set up the Walton Scholars program for the children of Wal-Mart employees, providing scholarships to 150 children annually.

She and her husband led the development of a program to bring students from Central America to three private Arkansas colleges to study. About 1,000 students have participated in the program since 1985, returning to their native countries to apply their learning and experience there.

Helen Walton is a primary supporter of the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. She also has been a longtime financial supporter of the University of the Ozarks, in Clarksville, and chaired the university's board.

Helen Walton is survived by sons Rob Walton and Jim Walton, and a daughter, Alice Walton, plus eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Another son, John Walton, was killed in 2005 at age 58 when a homemade experimental plane he was flying crashed in Wyoming.

A memorial service is planned for Monday at First Presbyterian Church in Bentonville.

REFhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Walton (last accessed March 4, 2009)
REFhttp://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=1792 (last accessed March 4, 2009)
REFhttp://www.entrepreneur.com/growyourbusiness/radicalsandvisionaries/article197560.html (last accessed March 4, 2009)

Contributed on 2/10/09 by wfields55
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Submitted: 2/10/09 • Approved: 7/17/20 • Last Updated: 7/20/20 • R150559-G150558-S3

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