Helen Walton

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Helen Walton
Helen Robson

(1919-12-03)December 3, 1919
DiedApril 19, 2007(2007-04-19) (aged 87)
Alma materUniversity of Oklahoma
Known forWalton family fortune
Net worthIncrease US$16.4 billion (est.)
(March 2007)[1]
Sam Walton
(m. 1943; died 1992)
RelativesLukas Walton (grandson)
Sybil Robson Orr (niece)

Helen Robson Walton (December 3, 1919 – April 19, 2007) was the wife of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club founder Sam Walton. At one point in her life, she was the richest American and the eleventh-richest woman in the world.


Helen was born in Claremore, Oklahoma. She was the daughter of homemaker Hazel Carr Robson and a prosperous banker/rancher Leland Stanford (L. S.) Robson. She was the valedictorian of her high school class in Claremore, Oklahoma, and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma at Norman with a degree in finance. She married Sam Walton on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1943 in Claremont.[2] They had met in a bowling alley where her dad took her. She once said in a TV interview that upon marrying, they agreed to avoid family squabbling at all costs.[3]

In September 1945, Sam and Helen Walton opened a Ben Franklin "five and dime", their first retail store, in Newport, Arkansas. In 1950, they moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, and in 1962, they opened the first Wal-Mart. Sam Walton credits her for having the idea of the profit-sharing plan with the company's associates.[2]

When Sam Walton died in 1992, he left his ownership in Wal-Mart to Helen and their four children.

In 2002, as Helen Watson was the president of the Walton Family Foundation, a $300 million donation was made to the University of Arkansas, the biggest donation ever made to a public university in the United States.[2]

In the last eight years of her life, Helen suffered from dementia but gained peace painting watercolors. "They're abstract but just lyrical and beautiful," said her daughter Alice in an October 2013 interview with Forbes. "I have two. One's very happy and…oh, whimsical, I guess you would say. Then there's one she did right before she died. I mean, you could almost tell. She knew." [4]

She died of heart failure on April 19, 2007. At the time of her death, she had an estimated net worth of $16.4 billion and owned 8.1% of Wal-Mart. Ms. Walton was survived by her brother, Frank Robson; three children, Samuel Robson Walton, Jim C. Walton, and Alice Louise Walton; eight grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Helen and Sam Walton had four children: sons Samuel Robson (Rob) (born 1944), John Thomas (1946-2005),[6] James Carr (Jim) (born 1948), and daughter Alice Louise (born 1949).[7]

Sam Walton was a workaholic and Helen spent a lot of time alone with the kids. She eventually picked up quail hunting to spend more time with him, even though she did not like the activity.[3]


  1. ^ "The World's Billionaires (2007): #29 Helen Walton". Forbes. March 8, 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Helen Robson Walton: 1919-2007". News.walmart.com. 19 April 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b Bob Ortega (1999). In Sam We Trust: The Untold Story of Sam Walton and how Wal-Mart is Devouring the World. Kogan Page Publishers. p. 413. ISBN 9780749431778.
  4. ^ O'Connor, Clare (October 7, 2013), "Inside The World Of Walmart Billionaire Alice Walton, America's Richest Art Collector", Forbes
  5. ^ Porter, Eduardo (21 April 2007). "Helen Walton, Matriarch of Wal-Mart Family, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  6. ^ "The Walton heirs". Money.cnn.com. 28 June 2005. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  7. ^ Richard S. Tedlow, Sam Walton: Great From the Start (July 23, 2001), Harvard Business School.

External links[edit]