John Walton Killed in Crash

Wal-Mart heir dies in ultralight airplane accident

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. -- John Walton, Vietnam vet, member of the Wal-Mart board, philanthropist, billionaire and second son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, was killed when the ultralight aircraft he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff from the Jackson Hole Airport in Grand Teton National Park on Monday.

Walton, 58, was the aircraft's sole occupant.

As a board member of the Walton Family Foundation, Walton played a leading role in guiding the Foundation's contributions to elementary and high school education, including scholarship [image-nocss] programs to provide parents with greater choice in education.

Walton served in the U.S. Army Green Berets as a medic during the Vietnam War.He was awarded the Silver Star for saving the lives of several members of his unit while under intense enemy fire.

Walton pursued a variety of business interests throughout his life, including work as a crop duster in the 1970s and as a boat builder in the 1980s and 1990s.More recently, Walton formed the holding company True North, which is composed of businesses ranging from advanced composites to boat building to venture capital investments.

Walton has been a member of the Wal-Mart board since 1992, but did not work for the Bentonville, Ark., retail empire that his father founded. His net worth was reportedly $18 billion.

John was a daring person and a high-caliber human being, Drayton McLane, chairman of the Houston Astros Ball Club, told CSP Daily News. McLane is a former vice chairman of Wal-Mart.

He's one of the wealthier persons in America, but was very down-to-earth and very level-headed, McLane said. He loved Wal-Mart and knew all the details [of its business]. He understood every phase of the business and would spend time in Wal-Mart stores and the distribution centers. He was very knowledgeable about the company for someone that wasn't active [in running the company].

He is survived by his wife Christy and their son, Luke; his mother Helen; two brothers, Rob and Jim; a sister, Alice; and their families.

The Walton family and Wal-Mart has request that in lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to honor John Walton may do so by making a memorial donation to one of the following organizations:

Alliance for School Choice, 5080 N. 40th Street, Suite 375, Phoenix, AZ 85018. Children's Scholarship Fund, 8 West 38th Street, 9th Floor, New York, NY 10018-6229. Teton Science School, P.O. Box 68, Kelly, WY 83011.