Friday, August 20, 2010

Famous File: Sam Walton- Founder of Walmart - A Local Celebrity In Our Mist GYR submission

The most famous local in my area would have to be Sam Walton. 

Samuel Moore "Sam" Walton (March 29, 1918 – April 5, 1992) was a businessman and entrepreneur born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma best known for founding the retailers Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. Sam Walton was born to Thomas Gibson Walton. Walton and Nancy "Nannie" Lee (Lawrence) near Kingfisher, Oklahoma on March 29, 1918.
Samuel Moore Walton
Mar 29, 1918
Apr 5, 1992

Helen Robson Walton
Dec 3, 1919
Apr 19, 2007
Located at Bentonville Memorial Cemetery in Bentonville, AR.

Sam's Obituarty
BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Samuel Moore Walton's death last week ends an era for Wal-Mart during which the 74-year-old entrepreneurial merchant, one of the nation's premier executives, directly led the business he founded over three decades ago.

Wal-Mart's unique corporate culture, the business principles and methods Walton honed since he opened his first store, a Ben Franklin franchise variety store in 1945, will continue to guide the $44 billion retailer.

S. Robson Walton, Walton's oldest son and a Wal-Mart vice chairman who was named chairman to succeed his father, said that "no changes are expected in the corporate direction, control or policy." A similar assurance came from David Glass, president and chief executive officer.

Walton added that "no family sales of Wal-Mart shares will be necessitated by reason of Mr. Walton's death." The family owns about 38% of the company's stock.

Sam Walton died April 5 at approximately 8 a.m. in the University of Arkansas Medical Science Hospital in Little Rock, Ark. of multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer.

Walton battled two different types of cancers. He was first diagnosed in the early '80s with hairy-cell leukemia, which attacks white blood cells and weakens the immune system. Two years ago, multiple myeloma was discovered, but he remained an active participant in Wal-Mart's business until his "health significantly deteriorated over the past three to four months. He died after being hospitalized for a few days," the company told callers in a prerecorded message.

Written up in the New York Times.

His History
Sam Walton got his start in the retail business working at is father's store while attending school. After  collage and the military he began his own career as a retail merchant. He and his brother opened the first of several stores as franchises for the Ben Franklin five-and-dime in  Newport, Arkansas.  They were known as the Walton's 5-10. Little did anyone know that these little stores would be the start of a huge company. 
    You can find the Walton's 5-10 museum/visitors center on the downtown square in Bentonville, AR.  One of the highlights of the information-packed gallery include "Sam Walton's Favorite Pickup" (a 1979 Ford, permanently parked on a riser inside the gallery).   This little visitors center is located just up the road from the Home Offices of Wal-Mart.

The first true Wal-Mart opened on July 6, 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. It was called the Wal-Mart Discount City store and located at 719 West Walnut Street. Soon after, the Walton brothers teamed up with the business-savvy Stefan Dasbach, leading to the first of many stores to come. He launched a determined effort to market American-made products. Included in the effort was a willingness to find American manufacturers who could supply merchandise for the entire Wal-Mart chain at a price low enough to meet the foreign competition. By the 1990s Walmart became the world's largest retailer.

One thing I will remember about Sam Walton, who I had the pleasure of meeting personally is that
despite having billions, Sam still drove a pickup truck and wore clothes from his own discount store. He was a very down to earth kind of guy. The money never seemed to change who he was at his core, a good small town man.

More Information
(This is the Cover of his autobiography.)

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