Helen Walton was born Dec. 3, 1919, in Claremore, Okla., a daughter of L.S. and Hazel Carr Robson. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in finance.
She met the man who would become her husband, Sam Walton, a native of Kingfisher, Okla., in 1942, and the two were married on Valentine's Day 1943. Sam Walton died in 1992 at the age of 74.
Members of the Walton family are listed each year among the world's wealthiest people. In March 2007, Forbes magazine listed Helen Walton as the 29th richest individual in the world, with a fortune estimated at $16.4 billion. All three of her surviving children were ahead of her on that list.
Helen Walton was widely known in Arkansas for her philanthropy, focusing on education, the arts, and families and children. She also was active in the Presbyterian Church both locally and nationally.
She was president of the Walton Family Foundation when it made a $300 million gift in 2002 to the University of Arkansas, a donation that followed an earlier $50 million grant by the foundation to the university's Sam M. Walton School of Business.
Helen Walton is a primary supporter of the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. She also has been a longtime financial supporter of the University of the Ozarks, in Clarksville, and chaired the university's board.
Helen Walton is survived by sons Rob Walton and Jim Walton, and a daughter, Alice Walton, plus eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Another son, John Walton, was killed in 2005 at age 58 when a homemade experimental plane he was flying crashed in Wyoming.more » « less