Meet the Waltons: America's Richest Family

By on December 12, 2014 in ArticlesEntertainment

The Waltons are the richest family in America and one of the richest and most powerful in the world. They are the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune as well as the retail giant's largest shareholders with over 50% ownership of the stock in the company. Sam Walton and his brother Bud opened the first Wal-Mart store in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. Today, Wal-Mart is the world's largest retail company with stores in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the UK. Sam Walton died in 1992.

Sam Walton was a self-made man. He was born in 1918 near Kingfisher, Oklahoma as the song of a small farmer who gave up farming for a more profitable career as a farm mortgage broker. This brought the family enough prosperity that Walton was able to graduate high school and attend the University of Missouri during the Great Depression. He also did a stint in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps during World War II. The family money combined with the post war recovering enabled Sam to not just get his start in business, but also succeed. His first store was a Ben Franklin franchise in Newport, Arkansas bankrolled by a $20,000 loan from his father-in-law and $5,000 from his personal savings (this is equal to about $300,000 today). By 1951 that first store had closed and he opened up his second, Walton's Five and Dime, in Bentonville, Arkansas. In 1961, he became the majority owner of the Bank of Bentonville. In 1962 he opened the first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas. Sam Walton died in 1992.

Sam Walton

Sam Walton Net Worth / LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images

Walton's children inherited not only his massive fortune but also his business empire. Three Walton family members serve on Wal-Mart's board of directors. Rob is the chairman of the board and joining him are his brother Jim and son-in-law Greg Penner. There are six Waltons on the Forbes billionaires list with a net worth of $148.8 billion. They are, to put it bluntly, American oligarchs. Four Walton family members are currently in the top 10 of Forbes' list of the richest Americans: Christy Walton ($40.9 billion), Jim Walton ($40 billion), Alice Walton ($38 billion) and Rob Walton ($38.9 billion).

Who are Sam Walton's heirs? Let's Meet the Waltons:

The Patriarch and Matriarch:

Sam Walton:

Born: March 29, 1918

Died: April 6, 1992

Helen Robson Kemper Walton

Born: December 3, 1919

Died: April 19, 2007

Sam Walton married Helen Kemper in 1943. She was the valedictorian of her high school class and went on to the University of Oklahoma, where she got her BA in Business. Sam and Helen had four children. In 1985, Sam Walton was named the richest man in the United States.

walton

The Children

S. Robson Walton – Net Worth: $38.9 billion

Born: October 28,1944

Rob Walton is currently the chairman of Wal-Mart. He is married to his third wife, Melani Walton, born in 1974. He was previously married to Carolyn Walton and Patricia Walton. He and Patricia Walton have three children.

John Walton (Christy Walton's late husband)

Born: October 1946

Died: June 27, 2006

John Walton dropped out of college to enlist in the Army. He was a member of the prestigious Green Berets. He was also a pilot and outdoorsman. He died in the crash of a home built aircraft in Wyoming. Christy Walton is John's widow. She shares 48.9% ownership of Wal-Mart with her late husband's siblings. She lives in Jackson, Wyoming and is a very active philanthropist. She is the 9th richest person in the world with a net worth of $40.9 billion.

Jim Walton – Net Worth: $40 billion

Born: June 17, 1948

Jim Walton is the 7th richest person in the United States. He is the chairman and CEO of Arvest Bank (formerly known as the Bank of Bentonville).

Christy Walton

Christy Walton /Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Alice Walton – Net Worth: $38 billion

Born: October 7. 1949

Alice Walton is currently the 8th richest person in the United States. She is a major art-collector who is the head of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a 200,000 square foot institution.

Jim, Alice and Rob Walton

Jim, Alice and Rob Walton

The Grandchildren

Sam Walton (Tillie Walton)

Born: February 1968

Parents: Rob and Patricia Walton

Sam Walton lives in Aspen, Colorado where he is an environmental advocate. An alumnus of Arizona's Prescott College he sits on the board of trustees for Environmental Defense Fund and on the Council of Advisors for National Geographic.

Carrie Walton Penner (Greg Penner)

Born: August 12, 1970

Parents: Rob and Patricia Walton

Carrie Walton went to Georgetown for her B.A. and Stanford for her M.A. She lives in Atherton, California and is on the board of directors for the Walton Family Foundation. Her husband Greg Penner is a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors. Penner got his MBA from Stanford and founded Madrone Capital Partners. Formerly, he was the CFO and Senior Vice President for Wal-Mart Japan.

Ben Walton

Parents: Rob and Patricia Walton

Ben Walton is an architect who lives in Aspen, Colorado. He sits on the board of directors of both the Denver Children's Advocacy Center and the Walton Family Foundation.

Lukas Walton

Born: 1986

Parents: John and Christy Walton

Lukas Walton is the only child of the late John Walton and his wife Christy. In 2010 he graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Environmentally Sustainable Businesses. He lives in Jackson, Wyoming.

Alice Walton Proietti (Joseph Thomas Proietti)

Born: November 1979

Parents: Jim and Lynn Walton

Alice Walton Proietti married Joseph Thomas Proietti in 2009.

Steuart Walton

Born: April 1981

Parents: Jim and Lynn Walton

Steuart Walton obtained his J.D. from Georgetown Law. He is currently an associate at the London firm of Allen and Overy.

Thomas Walton

Born: September 1983

Parents: Jim and Lynn Walton

James Walton

Born: August 1987

Parents: Jim and Lynn Walton

Sam's Brother

Bud Walton (wife Audrey)

Born: December 20, 1921

Died: March 21, 1995

Bud Walton was Sam Walton's younger brother and partner in the very first Wal-Mart in 1962. He and his wife Audrey had two children.

Bud's Children

Ann Walton Kroenke (Stan Kroenke)

Born: December 18, 1948

Parents: Bud and Audrey Walton

Net Worth: $5 billion

Ann is a graduate of Lincoln College and a Registered Nurse. She lives in Columbia, Missouri with her husband Stan Kroenke, where they reside in a $12,500 square foot $2.5 million home. She also owns a $132.5 million ranch in Montana. Stan is a real estate developer who made his fortune leasing commercial properties to Wal-Mart. He is the owner of the NFL's St. Louis Rams and the Premier League soccer team Arsenal.

Nancy Walton Laurie (Bill Laurie)

Born: May 1951

Parents: Bud and Audrey Walton

Net Worth: $4.2 billion

Nancy Walton met her husband Bill while they were both students at the University of Memphis. She founded the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in New York and currently lives in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada. Her husband Bill Laurie is a wealthy man in his own right from family money. He is a real estate developer who owned (with his family) the NHL's St. Louis Blues from 1999-2006. Nancy and Bill have two children.

Bud's Grandchildren

Whitney Kroenke Burditt (Ben Burditt)

Born: September 1977

Parents: Ann Walton and Stan Kroenke

Whitney Kroenke received her Bachelor's Degree in Theatre from Northwestern University. In 2006, she married Ben Burditt. He is a California-based remodeling contractor.

Josh Kroenke

Born: March 17, 1980

Parents: Ann Walton and Stan Kroenke

Josh Kroenke is the current president of the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. He lives in a $1.4 million condo in Denver that he bought in 2007.

Elizabeth Paige Laurie

Born: 1983

Parents: Nancy Walton and Bill Laurie

Scandal has followed Paige Laurie of late. A former roommate told ABC's 20/20 that she had been paid $20,000 over four years to do the Wal-Mart heiress's homework for her, prompting Laurie to return her communications degree to the university in 2005. Then, she and her husband, (high school sweethearts who got married in a very secret ceremony) became engaged in an ugly divorce with Laurie alleging that he stole from the business the two operated together in Malibu.

Articles Written by Amy Lamare
Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for www.hsx.com. She attended the University of Southern California where she majored in Creative Writing. An avid long distance runner, weekends she can be found running the streets of Los Angeles training for 1/2 and full marathons. Follow her on Facebook.
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