Wal-Mart Heir Walton Dies in Plane Crash
The 58-year-old John Walton – one of the world's richest men – was killed Monday when a small plane he was piloting crashed shortly after take-off near his Wyoming home, the Associated Press reports.
Walton, an experienced pilot who was a resident of Jackson Hole, was flying a 400- to 500-lb. homemade aircraft, with an aluminum body, cloth-covered wings and a small engine, Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Joan Anzelmo said, adding that the crash occurred on a sagebrush-covered plain at 12:20 p.m. local time.
Park rangers were investigating the cause of the accident, she said, explaining that the Federal Aviation Administration had declined to do so as it involved an unregistered aircraft.
Walton, ranked 11th on Forbes magazine's most recent list of the world's richest people (with a net worth estimated at $18.2 billion), served in the U.S. Army Green Berets as a medic during the Vietnam War. He was awarded a Silver Star for helping save the lives of several members of his unit while under intense enemy fire, according to Wal-Mart.
Throughout his life, Walton pursued a variety of business interests, including crop dusting in the 1970s and boat building in the 1980s and 1990s, and was a noted philanthropist.
His wife and their son, his mother, two brothers, a sister and their families survive Walton. His brother S. Robson Walton is chairman of Wal-Mart's board.