Tuesday, June 28, 2005

John Walton dies in crash

I was sadden to see in the news today that John Walton, an heir of Walmart founder, Sam Walton died in a crash of a homemade aircraft:

Wal-Mart heir John T. Walton, who threw his considerable financial support behind efforts to educate low-income children, has died in the crash of a homemade, experimental aircraft. [...]

Walton, one of three sons of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and a member of the company's board, was a major advocate of school vouchers, supporting efforts to create taxpayer-funded ways for students to attend private schools.

Walton founded the Children's Scholarship Fund in 1998 to provide low-income families with money to send their children to private schools. The foundation started with $67 million from the Walton Family Foundation and benefited more than 67,000 children.

In March, Forbes magazine listed John Walton as No. 11 on its list of the world's richest people with a net worth of $18.2 billion. He was tied with his brother Jim, one spot behind his brother Rob, and just ahead of his sister, Alice, and his mother, Helen.[...]

Jim Courtovich, who spent two years getting the Children's Scholarship Fund off the ground, said Walton was a devoted sponsor who "didn't just donate money, he donated time and energy." Walton would clear days at a time from his schedule to focus on the project, he said.

Courtovich also said that Walton was down to earth and, like his father, not above doing chores himself. One time, skiing in Jackson Hole, he said Walton "had to leave early because he had to caulk his chimney."[..]

John Walton was an Army veteran who served with the 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 enemy fire, according to the company.

A lot of people say a lot of bad things about Sam Walton and the Walmart empire. However I have to say that I have a lot of respect for them, and what they represent. Sam Walton's children didn't grow up in the lap of luxury, as the Walmart didn't really hit it big until the 1970s. However, they still remained down-to-earth afterwards. One of my brothers met John a couple of times, and was always impressed with how unassuming he was, driving a pick-up truck and wearing a Casio wrist watch, he was indistinguishable from the rest of us.

It's easy for weathly people to invest their money into causes, but investing time is a whole different ballgame. Anyone who puts their heart and soul into a good cause, and not just their money, is a respectable person in my book.

Rest in peace, John.

Update: Blackfive also has a post on John (Thanks, Teresa) with more details on his military career:

John was a Green Beret, part of a unit code-named the Studies and Observations Group, or SOG (cover for "special operations group"), a secret, elite military unit whose operatives would be disavowed by the U.S. government if captured. SOG often conducted actions behind enemy lines and in Laos and Cambodia. John joined the unit in 1968, right after the Tet offensive. On almost every mission there was a firefight.


Blogger airforcewife said...

You are exactly right about people who actually put the effort into investing time.

And unlike many of the "priviledged", he served in the military and served well.

I didn't know about his scholarship fund to send low income kids to private school. That's great!

3:12 PM  
Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

Yes, he did serve time in the military, but it was before his father was extremely wealthy. Although, this doesn't take away from his valor.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Blackfive has more on John Walton. An incredible man and a true American hero - no matter how much money his family eventually ended up with.


5:02 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Ich bin keine wal-mart person. Ich mag die billigen preise, obwohl..

Ich muss bewundern, was des Walton geschaffen hat. Es ist ein wahrer Amerikanisch traum.

Wenn er nicht im Militar, werden er hat die gleiche tapferkeit?

7:00 PM  
Blogger Household6 said...

What bothered me was while logging onto AOL today, the second remark after his crash was how much he was worth. The man just died does the public really need his financial status as well?


11:14 PM  

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