Samuel Moore Walton was born on March 29, 1918, in Kingfisher, Oklahoma. He was the first of two children born to Thomas Gibson Walton and Nancy “Nannie” Lee Lawrence. His brother, James Lawrence “Bud” Walton, was born December 20, 1921, in Kingfisher. Nancy Walton instilled in Sam a sense of ambition that stayed with him for the rest of his life.
After he graduated from high school in 1936, Sam Walton attended the University of Missouri, where he majored in business. To pay for his education, he delivered newspapers, worked as a lifeguard, and waited on tables at the student union. Walton still found time to lead Bible study classes, join a fraternity, and serve as president of a prestigious honor society, QEBH.
After he graduated from the university, Sam Walton received job offers from two of the top retail businesses in America, Sears and J C Penney. He chose J C Penney and began work as a management trainee for $75 a month. He loved working in the retail business and excelled as a salesman.
As a Ben Franklin franchisee, Walton was given the right to distribute Ben Franklin merchandise in exchange for a certain percentage of monthly sales. As a franchisee, however, he had to buy merchandise from Butler Brothers to sell in his store. Walton was not allowed to sell merchandise unless it was approved by the company, nor could he set the price. Sam Walton, however, ignored Butler Brothers’ rules.