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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Sam Walton

by Mike Wimmer

Commissioned by the Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc.
Dedicated on March 29, 2005
Second Floor

Sam Walton by Mike Wimmer

The Artwork

Samuel Moore Walton was born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma on March 29, 1918 and later moved to Missouri with his family. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1940 and worked for J.C. Penney as a management trainee. He met his wife, Helen Robson, in in Claremore, Oklahoma, and they were married in 1943.

After serving in WWII, Walton took his savings plus a loan from his wife's father and opened his first store, a Ben Franklin franchise.

In 1962, he opened the first Wal-Mart in Rogers, Arkansas. Wal-Mart specialized in name-brands at low prices and Walton was surprised at the success. Soon a chain of Wal-Mart stores sprang up across rural America. Walton's management style was popular with employees and he founded some of the basic concepts of management that are still in use today. Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the United States.

By 1991, Wal-Mart was the largest U.S. retailer with over 1700 stores. Walton remained active in managing the company as President and CEO until 1988, and remained chairman until his death. When he died in 1992, he was the world's second richest man, behind Bill Gates. He passed his company down to his three sons, daughter and wife.

Fortune Magazine named Walton as the third greatest CEO of all time. Time Magazine also named him as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. Walton was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George Bush in 1992 in categories including entrepreneurship, business statesman and business leader.

The Artist

Mike Wimmer
Mike Wimmer
Born and raised in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Mike Wimmer began his career as an artist during the seventh grade. He earned his B.F.A. from the University of Oklahoma, where he met Don Ivan Punchatz. Wimmer later moved to Arlington, Texas to be Punchatz's apprentice at Punchatz's famous Sketch Pad Studio. Wimmer learned valuable knowledge regarding the business aspect of illustrating as well as various painting techniques and the working methods of the local Dallas illustrators. After his two and a half year apprenticeship, he moved back to Norman, Oklahoma and set up his own studio using all that he had learned in Texas. Since then Wimmer has become very successful illustrating children's books such as "Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh" by Robert Burliegh which was the winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children in 1990. He also illustrated "All the Places to Love" by Patricia MacLachlan which was published in 1994 and won the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Illustrated Children's Book 1995. Wimmer's latest book, "Will Rogers" by Former Governor Frank Keating, was published in 2002 and has won the 2003 Spur Award from the Western Writers Association of America. Even though Wimmer has worked for some of the largest corporations in the world including Disney and Procter and Gamble, Wimmer finds the greatest artistic pleasure within his creation of fine art.