Bud Walton, the Low Key Wal-Mart Founder, Dead at 73
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ James L. ``Bud″ Walton, who took a quieter but no less influential role than his brother Sam in the giant Wal-Mart discount store chain, died Tuesday at age 73.
Walton died in Miami after surgery for a stomach aneurysm he suffered while in the Caribbean for a fishing trip, said Jim von Gremp, a family friend and state representative from Bentonville, where Walton lived and the retailing giant is based.
Sam Walton and his younger brother opened the first Wal-Mart Discount City in Rogers in 1962.
Sam, who died in 1992, was the leader in making the company the nation’s largest retailer, while his brother, as senior vice president and director, specialized in obtaining real estate and getting new stores built.
``He left the vision to Sam,″ said John E. Barnes, vice president-financial consultant, at Smith Barney Inc. in Little Rock.
Last October, Forbes magazine listed Bud Walton’s wealth at $1 billion, ranking him the 83rd richest person in the country. Other Walton relatives are in the top 15.
Walton was a major donor to the University of Arkansas, giving $15 million toward construction of a 19,200-seat arena on the UA campus. The Bud Walton Arena _ jokingly called the Bud Dome or the Bud Bowl _ opened in November 1993.
His gift was recalled by President Clinton, an Arkansas native.
``Bud never forgot his roots. His generosity toward his community and to the University of Arkansas will long be remembered by those he touched,″ Clinton said Tuesday in a statement.
Wal-Mart now has more than 2,000 Wal-Mart stores plus affiliated businesses such as Bud’s Warehouse Outlets, Supercenters and Sam’s Clubs. It operates in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico.
For the 12 months ending Jan. 31, the Bentonville-based retailer earned $2.68 billion on sales of $82.49 billion.
In his biography, Sam Walton said his brother purposely took a secondary role, though ``he has common sense and superior judgment, and I have listened to him more times than folks realize.″
Walton is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were pending.