Sam Walton (1918-1992) was an American entrepreneur best known for founding Wal-Mart, the first of which opened in Bentonville, Arkansas in 1962. Prior to this, he had operated a number of Ben Franklin discount stores along with several members of his family. While starting out with modest means, Walton went on to become a billionaire, and the richest man in America according to Forbes magazine in 1985.
In 1983, Walton founded Sam's Club, a warehouse club store affiliated with Wal-Mart in which customers must purchase a membership. Sam's Clubs are marketed toward small businesses.
Walton continued to have an active role in his company as CEO until 1988, and continued to stay active until his death. On March 17, 1992, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H. W. Bush in Bentonville.
Walton also quietly lived his Christian faith, giving scholarships for foreigners to attend Christian universities and setting up a yearly endowment to help spread the gospel through the Presbyterian Church shortly before his death.
- Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Samuel M. Walton in Bentonville, Arkansas George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, retrieved September 14, 2012