There are a handful of rich families all over the United States, but none is as rich as the Walton Family. Although the Walton’s are primarily known for founding and managing the largest company by revenue in the world, Walmart, several members of the family have started to branch out to other business ventures, which include sports teams and charity organizations. To know more about the Walton’s, here is a background and overview of just how rich the Walton family is.
Sam Walton and Walmart
The amazing wealth of the Walton family started when a former J.C. Penney employee named Sam Walton opened his first Walmart store (originally called Wal-Mart Discount City) on July 2, 1962, in Rogers, Arkansas. However, before he created the first Walmart, Sam Walton already had experience in managing a business, as he once bought a branch of a Ben Franklin store from the Butler Brothers, a retailer and wholesale supplier from Chicago, and he has also opened a business called “Walton’s Five and Dime.” The store is now the location of the Walmart Museum.
In just five years, Sam Walton’s Walmart store quickly expanded to 18 branches in Arkansas and has reached $9 million in sales. By 1968, Walmart opened the first stores outside of Arkansas, specifically in Claremore, Oklahoma, and Sikeston, Missouri. In the 1980s, Walmart became the third-largest retailer in the United States, with the second and first being Kmart and Sears, respectively. But, by the 1990s, Walmart was able to surpass the sales and revenue of Sears to become the largest retailer in the country.
As of 2021, Walmart is managed by Greg Penner as the Chairman and Doug McMillon as the President and CEO. Greg Penner is married to Carrie Walton, the granddaughter of Sam Walton and the daughter of Samuel Robson Walton, the eldest son of Sam Walton, who was the chairman of Walmart from 1992 to 2015.
Sam Walton’s Children
Sam Walton married University of Oklahoma graduate Helen Walton on February 14, 1943. Sam and Helen Walton had four children, who are named Samuel Robson (born in 1944), John Thomas (born in 1946), James Carr (born in 1948), and Alice Louise (born in 1949), Each of Sam Walton’s children tried different business ventures and charity causes, with most of them being successful. Here are some neat details about the children of Sam Walton.
Samuel Robson Walton
Samuel Robson Walton, better known by his nickname “Rob,” was born on October 28, 1944, in the city of Tulsa in Oklahoma. Because he is the eldest of Sam Walton’s children, he is considered to be the heir to the fortune of Walmart. Rob Walton attended The College of Wooster and graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Furthermore, Walton is also a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, whose notable members include former president Harry S. Truman and retired politician Ron Paul. In 1969, he received his Juris Doctor degree from Columbia Law School.
When Walton graduated from law school, he became a member of Conner & Winters, a law firm that represented Walmart. In 1979, he left Conner & Winters in order to serve as the senior vice president of Walmart. By 1982, he was declared as the vice-chairman. Two days after his father’s death, specifically on April 7, 1992, he was named chairman of Walmart. He kept the said position until 2015, when he assigned Greg Penner, the husband of his daughter, Carrie Walton, to become his successor. In 2021, Walton had an estimated net worth of $61.5 billion, thus making him the 20th richest person in the world.
John Thomas Walton
John Walton was born on October 8, 1946, in Newport, Arkansas. He graduated from Bentonville High School, where he was regarded as a great football player in his varsity team. Walton then attended The College of Wooster, but he eventually dropped out of college in 1968 in order to enlist in the US Army. John Walton was one of the soldiers deployed during the Vietnam War, where he served in the Green Berets and was a part of the Studies and Observations Group. For his bravery in the said war, he was given the Silver Star Medal by the US Armed Forces.
After returning to the United States, Walton developed a fascination with flying planes. To pursue his passion, he briefly worked as a pilot for Walmart. Later on, John Walton would leave the company (but is still a board member) to get a much simpler job as a crop-duster pilot, where he was assigned to fly over cotton fields to spray pesticides and other types of dusters. A few years later, he co-founded Satloc, which is an aerial application company that helped popularize the use of GPS for agricultural crop dusting. Besides Satloc, Walton also founded Corsair Marine, a company that specializes in building trimaran sailboats.
Friends of John Walton described him as “adventurous,” as he was fond of outdoor activities like mountain biking, skiing, skydiving, and scuba diving. John Walton sadly died on June 27, 2005, when the CGS Hawk Arrow (a home-built experimental aircraft) he was piloting crashed in Jackson, Wyoming. In the year of his death, John Walton was tied with his brother Jim Walton as the 11th-richest person in the world, as he had a net worth of $18.2 billion.
James Carr Walton
James Carr Walton, better known by his nickname “Jim,” was born on June 7, 1948, in Newport, Arkansas. Jim Walton graduated from Bentonville High School in 1965, and during his studies at the said school, he was the president of his junior class and was a star football player for his team. Walton then graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1971. In college, he also became a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, much like his older brother Rob.
In 1972, he joined Walmart as a manager of the company’s real-estate dealings. Three years later, he joined Walton Enterprises as the president. In 2005, he replaced his brother John (who died the same year) as one of the members of the Walmart Board of Directors. At Walmart, he is responsible for managing the Strategic Planning and Finance committees. In addition to Walmart, Jim Walton also served as the CEO of Arvest Bank (another family-owned business) before becoming the bank’s chairman. As of 2021, Walton has a net worth of $61.9 million, making him the 7th-richest person in the world.
Alice Louise Walton
Alice Walton was born in Newport, Arkansas, on October 7, 1949, and is the youngest of the four Walton siblings. Similar to her brothers, Alice Walton graduated from Bentonville High School in 1966. Then, she graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a bachelor’s degree in economics.
Although Alice Walton has worked and managed for several companies throughout her career, she is most notably known for her love of art, which she inherited from her mother. Her passion for creating and observing art led her to create the Walton Family Foundation, which is responsible for the development of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. Alice Walton has bought several expensive paintings, including “Kindred Spirits” by Asher Brown Durand (bought for $35 million) and “Rosie the Riveter” by Normal Rockwell (bought for $4.9 million). In 2021, Alice Walton reportedly has a net worth of $64.6 billion, making her the 17th-richest person in the world, as well as the richest woman in the United States.
Those are just some important pieces of information that you can learn about the Walton family. Even though Sam Walton passed away on April 5, 1992, his children and grandchildren luckily inherited his passion for making businesses successful, which is why the Walton family is still considered the richest family in the country.