Wal-Mart Heir Dies in Crash
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: June 27, 2005
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BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- John Walton, the billionaire son of Wal-Mart
founder Sam Walton and a member of the company's board, died Monday in a
plane crash in Wyoming.
Walton, 58, of Jackson, Wyo., was piloting an ultralight that crashed
shortly after takeoff from the Jackson Hole Airport in Grand Teton National
Park, the company said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, and the cause
of the afternoon crash was not known, officials said.
The plane was an experimental ultralight aircraft with a small,
gasoline-powered engine and wings wrapped in fabric similar to heavy-duty
sail cloth, officials said.
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 bother Rob, and just ahead of his
sister Alice and his mother Helen.
Walton joined the board of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 1992, but did not work
for the company.
''We're sad that John Walton, who was well-known and much-loved in this
valley, died doing something that he loved to do, which was fly aircraft,''
said Joan Anzelmo, a spokeswoman for Grand Teton National Park.
''I saw parts of it,'' she said of the plane. ''I didn't realize what I was
seeing at first. It was so lightweight it looked like a giant model
Anzelmo said officials notified the Federal Aviation Administration and
National Transportation Safety Board.
''Because this is a homemade, non-registered, experimental aircraft, at
least today they told us there was not going to be an investigation,'' she
said. Grand Teton rangers will conduct their own probe, as is done with any
major accident in the park, she said.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said the company notified its employees
worldwide of Walton's death.
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. He attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, and served as
a board member of the Walton Family Foundation.
The company said Walton pursued a variety of business interests including
working as a crop duster in the 1970s and building boats in the 1980s. More
recently, he had formed a holding company, True North, to oversee various
Walton is survived by his wife, Christy, and son, Luke; his mother, Helen;
two brothers, Rob and Jim; and a sister, Alice.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.