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 BENTONVILLE, Ariz., April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Sam Walton rose from small-town beginnings to become one of the giants of 20th century retailing, as founder, chairman and driving spirit of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Bentonville, Ark., discount retailer.
 Mr. Walton, who died April 5, 1992, at age 74, formally stepped out of full-time corporate management in 1988, when he turned over the position of chief executive officer to David D. Glass, Wal-Mart's president. However, Mr. Walton remained chairman and a dominating force in Wal-Mart and all of retailing. The Walton family holds approximately 38 percent of Wal-Mart's outstanding shares. The company said Mr. Walton's death isn't expected to result in any changes in corporate policy or control.
 As an executive, Sam Walton was almost as well known for his down- home business style as he was for his world-class business accomplishments. A buoyant, unpretentious man, he drove a pickup truck to work, insisted that associates and customers call him "Sam," and delighted in leading his troops in the songs and cheers that he considered an essential part of Wal-Mart's spirit. He had little use for financial wealth and dismissed his own multi-billion-dollar fortune--most of it in Wal-Mart stock--as "just paper."
 Although he was a successful executive, Mr. Walton considered himself a merchant above all.. His great love was in being out in the stores and clubs with the customers and the associates. He spent several days of each week doing precisely that, sometimes accompanied by his favorite bird dogs. He had little time for the day-to-day of running a business-he early on turned that over to others--but he set a stern, no-frills tone that is one of the secrets of Wal-Mart's success.
 Samuel Moore Walton was born March 29, 1918, in Kingfisher, Okla., the eldest of two children of Thomas and Nancy Walton. His father was farm-loan appraiser and real estate broker.
 During Sam's boyhood, the family moved to several towns in Missouri, ending up in Columbia, where Sam was student body president at Hickman High School and delivered a graduation address entitled "Leadership."
 He attended the University of Missouri at Columbia, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and Scabbard & Blade and Blue Key honorary societies. He graduated in 1940, with a bachelor's degree in economics, and accepted a job with the J.C. Penney Company in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1942, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army, and he rose to the rank of captain in the Army Intelligence Corps before leaving the service in 1945.
 On Valentine's Day, 1943, he married Helen Robson of Claremore, Okla. The couple had three sons--Rob, John and Jim--and a daughter, Alice.
 Upon being discharged from the Army in 1945, Sam purchased a Ben Franklin variety-store franchise in Newport Ark. He quickly turned the store from being a laggard in the Ben Franklin system into the top- performing variety store, in sales and earnings, in the region.
 When Sam lost the lease on the Newport store, he moved to Bentonville, in the northwest corner of Arkansas. Here, he bought a small Ben Franklin franchise, re-named the store Walton's 5 & 10 and re-opened for business on May 8, 1950.
 The Bentonville store's business quickly took-off, and soon began acquiring other variety-store franchises, sometimes in concert with his brother, James L. "Bud" Walton. By the early 1960's the Walton brothers ran the largest collection of independent Ben Franklin stores in the country, with units in nearly a score of small towns in Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas.
 Sam opened his own discount store in Rogers, Ark., just down the road from Bentonvile, in June 1962. He called it Wal-Mart. In 1964, Sam opened two more Wal-Mart stores, in Harrison and Sringdale, Ark. Currently, there are 1,735 Wal-Mart stores and 212 Sam's Clubs (the company's members-only clubs, founded in 1983).
 Mr. Walton always sought to deflect credit for Wal-Mart's achievements away from himself and onto the company's associates. However, no one close to the company doubted the chairman's pivotal role in Wal-Mart's extraordinary rise, and his achievements were widely recognized. His most coveted honor came on March 17 of this year when President George Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The ceremony took place in Bentonville, Ark., before 1,500 of Mr. Walton's associates.
 As early as 1960, the University of Arkansas business school named him "Arkansas' Success Story of the Year." In 1978, he was named Man of the Year by Retail Week and Discounter of the Year by Discount Store News and became the second retailer to be inducted into the Discounting Hall of Fame. In 1984, he received the Horatio Alger Award. Among other business-related awards, in 1988, he received the Gold Award of the National Retail Merchants Association--the first time the award was given to a non-member. In 1989, Financial World Magazine named him "Chief Executive Officer of the Decade." In 1991, Sam was inducted into the National Sales Hall of Fame given annually to honor the accomplishments of America's sales and marketing leaders. Mr. Walton was recently announced as a inductee into the National Business Hall of Fame, joining a select group of business greats honored in the Hall of Fame exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry.
 Among his business activities outside of Wal-Mart, Mr. Walton was involved in Arkansas banking. In 1960, he purchased controlling interest in the Bank of Bentonville and eventually expanded his holdings to include seven banks in northwest Arkansas and Norman and Tulsa, Okla. The banks are owned through the family's Arvest Bank Group, Inc. Mr. Walton in recent years had retired from active participation in the banks' affairs and had been succeeded by his son, Jim who heads Arvest Bank Group, Inc.
 Throughout his life, Sam Walton was widely involved in civic activities and in the First Presbyterian Church of Bentonville. He was a member and former chairman of the Arkansas Business Council. In 1983, Bentonville held a "Sam and Helen Walton Appreciation Day," and renamed a local stretch of U.S. Highway 71 "Walton Boulevard." Mr. Walton received honorary doctorates from the University of the Ozarks in 1979), the University of Arkansas (1980), the University of Missouri (1984).
 In addition to Mrs. Walton, survivors include three sons: S. Robson and Jim, both of Bentonville, and John of National City, Calif.; one daughter, Alice, of Lowell, Ark., and ten grandchildren.
 The family has requested a private funeral service.
 In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to the Arkansas Cancer Research Center of the First Presbyterian Church Endowment Fund for Missions. Accounts have been established at the Bank of Bentonville, P.O. Box 1229, Bentonville, Ark., 72712.
 -0- 04/05/92
 /CONTACT: Don Shinkle, 501-273-4313 or Paul Carter, 501-273-4814, both of Wal-Mart, for the Family/
 (WMT) CO: Wal-Mart, Stores, Inc. ST: Arkansas IN: REA SU:

JP -- NYSU006 -- 5142 04/05/92 12:23 EST
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Date:Apr 5, 1992
Next Article:SAMUEL MOORE WALTON DIES (Obituary)

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