John Walton: The Man Behind the Walton Family Foundation
John Walton was one of the sons of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer. He was also a philanthropist who established the Walton Family Foundation, a charitable organization that supports education, environmental conservation, and community development. In this article, we will explore the life and legacy of John Walton, and how his foundation is making a positive impact in the world.
Early Life and Education
John Walton was born on October 8, 1946, in Newport, Arkansas. He was the third of four children of Sam and Helen Walton. He grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas, where his father opened the first Walmart store in 1962. John attended the College of Wooster in Ohio, but dropped out after his sophomore year to join the U.S. Army. He served as a Green Beret medic during the Vietnam War, and was awarded the Silver Star for saving the lives of several members of his unit.
Business and Philanthropy
After returning from Vietnam, John Walton worked as a crop duster and a pilot. He also invested in several businesses, including solar energy, banking, and aviation. He joined the board of directors of Walmart in 1992, and became one of the richest people in the world. According to Forbes, he had a net worth of $18.2 billion at the time of his death in 2005.
John Walton was passionate about education reform and school choice. He believed that every child deserved a quality education regardless of their background or income. He co-founded the Children’s Scholarship Fund in 1998, which provides scholarships to low-income families to send their children to private schools. He also supported charter schools, voucher programs, and other initiatives that promote educational innovation and competition.
In 1987, John Walton and his wife Christy established the Walton Family Foundation, which is one of the largest private foundations in the United States. The foundation’s mission is to create “opportunity for people and communities by focusing on three areas: improving K-12 education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta.” The foundation has donated billions of dollars to various causes and organizations over the years.
Personal Life and Death
John Walton married Christy Ruth Tallant in 1978. They had one son, Lukas Walton, who is also a philanthropist and an environmentalist. John Walton was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed skiing, hiking, biking, and flying. He was also a collector of vintage motorcycles and cars.
On June 27, 2005, John Walton died in a plane crash near Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming. He was piloting an ultralight aircraft when it crashed shortly after takeoff. He was 58 years old. His death was mourned by his family, friends, colleagues, and beneficiaries. He was buried at Bentonville Cemetery in Arkansas.
John Walton was a successful businessman and a generous philanthropist who dedicated his life to improving education and the environment. He left behind a legacy that continues to inspire and benefit millions of people around the world. His foundation is still active today, carrying on his vision and values.