James Walton

James “Bud” Walton, born on December 20, 1921, in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, was the younger brother of Sam Walton, the co-founder of Walmart. Their father, Thomas Gibson Walton, worked as a farm appraiser and mortgage agent, leading the family to move frequently during Bud’s childhood. They lived in various places including Springfield, Missouri, Marshall, Shelbina, and Columbia.

Growing up, Bud and his brother worked on the family farm, with Bud taking on odd jobs like delivering newspapers and working as a lifeguard to support the family. He attended David H. Hickman High School in Columbia, where he was active in sports and served as the senior class president. After high school, he attended Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, before serving as a Navy pilot in World War II, where he met his wife Audrey. They had two daughters, Ann and Nancy.

Bud Walton’s career in retail began alongside his brother Sam in the Ben Franklin Stores, a franchise of Butler Brothers of Chicago. Their venture into retail eventually led to the establishment of Walmart Stores Inc. On April 7, 1983, the first Sam’s Club, named after Sam Walton, opened in Midwest City, Oklahoma.

Apart from his contributions to the retail industry, Bud Walton was also known for his philanthropy. Along with his brother, he donated $150,000 for the construction of the Thomas G. Walton Building, named after their father, which housed the Columbia Chamber of Commerce and Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. He also donated $15 million for the construction of Bud Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and supported initiatives like the James L. “Bud” Walton Chair of Retailing at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri.

Sadly, Bud Walton passed away on March 21, 1995, in Miami, Florida, at the age of 73, following surgery for an aneurysm. He was laid to rest in Memorial Park Cemetery in Columbia, Missouri, leaving behind a legacy of entrepreneurial success and philanthropic contributions.

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