Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alice Walton

Alice Louise Walton (born October 7, 1949 in Newport, Arkansas) is an American heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune. She is the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and Helen Walton, and sister of S. Robson Walton and Jim Walton. Another brother, John T. Walton, died in a 2005 plane crash. In September 2011, her estimated net worth was US$20.9 billion, making her the tenth richest American.

Education and Career
Walton graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, with a B.A. in economics and finance. She began her career in finance as an equity analyst and money manager for First Commerce Corporation and later served as vice chairperson and head of all investment-related activities at the Arvest Bank Group. In 1988, Walton founded Llama Company, an investment bank engaged in corporate finance, public and structured finance, real estate finance and sales and trading. She served as President, Chairperson and CEO. For a time, she was a broker for E.F. Hutton.

She was the first chairperson and driving force behind the Northwest Arkansas Council. This community development organization played a major role in securing the development of the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. In the late 1990s Walton closed Llama Company and moved to a 3,200 acre ranch in Millsap, Texas, named the Rocking W Ranch. An avid horse-lover, Walton currently lives in a modest one story 4,432 square foot stucco house on the horse ranch. She is known for having an eye for determining which 2 month-olds will grow to be champion cutters. 

Walton arranged for and provided the initial seed capital to finance the construction of the airport. Her involvement was instrumental in the creation of the airport, and in recognition of her contribution to the airport project and her support of transportation improvements throughout the region, the Airport Authority Board of Directors named the airport terminal the Alice L. Walton Terminal Building. In 2001, Walton was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame.

She was the twentieth largest individual contributor to 527 committees in the U.S. presidential election, 2004, donating US$2.6 million to the conservative Progress for America group. During the 2004 election cycle, Progress for America ran advertisements supporting the Iraq war and praising George W. Bush for preventing "another 9/11".

In his 1992 autobiography "Made in America", Sam Walton remarked that Alice was "the most like me - a maverick - but even more volatile than I am."

Personal Life
Walton has been involved in at least three automobile accidents. In an April 1989 incident, she struck and killed 50-year-old Oleta Hardin. No charges were filed. In a 1998 incident, she is reported to have hit a gas meter while driving under the influence and told the responding police officer, "I'm Alice Walton, bitch!" She paid a fine and served no jail time.

On October 7, 2011, her 62nd birthday, she was again arrested for driving while intoxicated in Weatherford, Texas, after a dinner with friends in Fort Worth. Walton's attorney released a statement acknowledging the incident and expressing regret.

Walton is divorced, having been married briefly in her 20s.

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