Back to

Family Partnership

Helen and Sam

After graduating from college, Sam began his career in retailing in Des Moines, Iowa, as a management trainee with the J.C. Penney Company. Then World War II broke out. While waiting to be inducted into the Army, Sam traveled back to Oklahoma and found a job at a DuPont gunpowder plant in Pryor, near Tulsa. Bud joined him there, and they found a room in the nearby town of Claremore. As Sam later wrote, "That's where I met Helen Robson one April night in a bowling alley ... I just fell right in love." Before he entered the Army, he proposed. They were married on Valentine's Day in her hometown of Claremore.


Helen Robson and Sam Walton on their wedding day—Valentine’s Day, 1943. Sam is wearing his Army second lieutenant’s dress uniform.

Front view of Helen's wedding dress, a white moire faille.

Back view of Helen's wedding dress.

Helen and Sam's wedding was reported on the front page of The Claremore Progress.

  Click and hold to zoom in
  Click and hold to zoom in
  Click and hold to zoom in

Helen Robson was born on December 3, 1919, in Claremore, Oklahoma. She attended Claremore High School, Christian College for Women, and the University of Oklahoma School of Business.

Helen earned a letter in fencing while at Christian College for Women in Columbia, Missouri.

Helen earned a letter in fencing while at Christian College for Women.

Helen and Sam with Rob, who was born in 1944, during Sam’s last year in the Army.


Helen and Sam at home with their children: (from left) Jim, Alice, John, and Rob.


Helen, Sam, and their children visit Helen's family, including her parents, Hazel Carr Robson (top, second from right) and Leland Stanford Robson (bottom, right).


Sam, while stationed in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1945, feeds his oldest child Rob.


Sam and Helen enjoy a summer treat surrounded by family.


Home and Children

By June 1945, when Sam was discharged from the Army, he and Helen already had their first child, Rob, who was born in 1944. Now, with the war over, they were ready to find a place to settle down, raise a family, and begin a new life. Sam knew he wanted to pursue a career in retail. He bought his first Ben Franklin variety store in Newport, Arkansas, a town he and Helen liked at first sight. There, three more children were born: John (1946), Jim (1948), and Alice (1949).

I always told my mother and dad that I was going to marry someone who had that special energy and drive, that desire to be a success. I certainly found what I was looking for.
Helen Walton